We’re excited for you to meet the rest of the LTYM SWMichigan 2016 cast, but first we’d like to acknowledge that last week was a terribly difficult week in southwest Michigan.
In light of the recent news out of St. Joseph of local sponsor, 98.3 The Coast’s morning show personality Denise Bohn’s tragic death, it is even more poignant that a portion of our ticket proceeds will benefit Emergency Shelter Services, Inc. this season. Our hearts go out to her children, to the families, and to the countless friends, fans and coworkers impacted by this tragedy. Domestic violence is just one of the many reasons women and families find themselves homeless, and we hope to make a difference with our show as we celebrate and give voice to that which was so clearly most important in Denise’s life: her children and her role as a mother.
We had an incredible rehearsal a week ago Saturday. We did some Amy Cuddy power poses, laughed, ate some snacks including delicious fresh salsa & guacamole from local sponsor, BajaGringo Taco Truck, and we came to know one another better. We really bonded as a cast through each other’s stories. Our word that resonates for this season is resilience. We were all amazed that these particular stories came together, with common threads running throughout, in this particular season. Just look at these beautiful smiling faces! We can’t wait to bring you our show THIS Friday, April 29th, 7:00 PM, at the St. Joseph High School Howard Performing Arts Center Auditorium.
In no particular order, let’s finally meet the rest of our 2016 cast!
CECI REDMOND (that is Seh-See and not See-See, por favor) is like a good Cuban cigar; Cuban seed, not Cuban soil. Born and raised as a first generation Cuban American in Miami, FL, her parents came to the US as Cuban refugee children on the Freedom Flights orchestrated by the Catholic Church in the 60’s to get youngsters out of Castro’s Communist Cuba. She likes to say that she lives on the hyphen, cleverly riding the wave between two cultures. Her “how bad could it be” attitude brought her and her family to Indiana in the summer of 2014. She is the proud mother of three amazing Little Monsters ages 12, 10 and 9 and the fiancée of the World’s Sexist Bald Guy. She dons her Wonder Woman cape from 8-? As she is, by trade, a helluva marketer. Ceci started writing about a year ago and her first piece won her a place in the 2015 cast of Mamalogues. Her blog, comosaydiceblog.com, is a mix of political satire, mommy chronicles, cultural nuances and one hundred percent as authentic, hilarious, warm and real as she is.
TRACY-ANN JENNINGS is a lifelong resident of her beloved Benton Harbor, MI. A proud member of the Benton Harbor High School Graduating Class of 2000, she is also a graduate the University of Michigan and a Master of Social Work Student at Western Michigan University.
Mrs. Jennings has dedicated her professional career to working with the youth of Benton Harbor, beginning in 1996, when she worked at Sterne Brunson Elementary School as a Program Assistant with the Freedom Program. She has also served the youth of Benton Harbor by working with the Catch the Dream Program, the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, Benton Harbor Area Schools, Dream Academy, Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, the Berrien County Health Department, and as a Volunteer with the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church’s Youth Department.
Currently, Mrs. Jennings serves her community as the Executive Director of Emergency Shelter Services, where she and her team work daily to eliminate homelessness in Berrien County.
Mrs. Jennings is very much committed to the revitalization of her beloved community, and has worked with City Leadership and Community Members on numerous projects in order to “achieve a Healthy Benton Harbor, where everyone can live, work and grow.” In addition to being a speaker for the 2016 Listen To Your Mother Show, Mrs. Jennings has also participated as an active member in the following: Human Services Coordinating Council , Berrien County Housing Resource Network, Women’s Health Council of Benton Harbor/Benton Twp., Executive Professional Women’s Association. Mrs. Jennings was also a featured speaker at the Upgrade Women’s Empowerment Conference in 2015
While Mrs. Jennings wears many important hats, her greatest titles are those of Wife and Mother to her beautiful Family.
LOREN MICHAELS-HARRIS strives to motivate, inspire, and uplift every person that crosses his path. He shows those that want to know that while life is full of challenges, it is our challenges that provide opportunity. Loren loves his Savior, Jesus Christ, his partner, Brian, books, music, and all things of beauty. He loves being creative, and says, “I love me.” Though Loren was born in Berrien Springs, Michigan, he hails from all the places where he’s ever learned anything. Loren was an HERBALIFE® Body Transformation “Grand Champion” in 2014, a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech contest winner at Lake Michigan College in 2012, and his claim to fame is being featured in 1988 in People Magazine’s “Apology Accepted” series, after which he created the world’s first Apology Company.
PAM MARSH is a writer, teacher, and stay at home mother of two busy boys. She recently transplanted from suburban life in Indianapolis to the country to start a new chapter with her loving husband of ten years, Scott. Pam is passionate about Jesus, marriage, family, parenthood, wine, friendship, education, and loves to find herself behind the yoke of an airplane to acquire hours to attain her private pilot’s license when she can. The beautiful coast of Lake Michigan is Pam’s happy place, feeling the sand between her toes, a great book in hand and listening to waves lapping the shore recharges her soul like nothing else. She and Scott enjoy taking their flip flops on the road to travel and explore other beaches any chance they get. The next adventure, however, will take them further from home than they’ve ever journeyed to Bulgaria, where they are following God’s plan for their family to grow through the adoption of a teenage daughter. After being nominated teacher of the year at her inner-city school, supporting her husband who often travels with his job, parenting a child with special needs, a two year old, and soon a teenager, Pam considers her super power patience, which she thanks God for each day!
ERIN HAMILTON grew up in St. Joseph, MI with her loving family including a brother, Mike and sister, Kelly who are all fortunate to remain extremely close. She enjoys spending time with her family and with the family she gained when she married her love, Brad. Erin enjoys being a mother and an aunt, weekend trips north, beach days, music, laughing so hard her face hurts and being a part of the best family of friends on Earth.
In her home Erin loves channeling her inner hippie by using essential oils and making soap, baby butt balm, laundry detergent, lotion, deodorant and everything in between. Together, Brad and Erin love their dog, Harley Quinn and cat, Lilly, their son, Lennox and daughter, Ella.
ELNORA GAVIN was born in Benton Harbor, MI and graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1994. After graduating from Howard University with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Legal Communications with a minor in Business Management, she worked as a contracts assistant for a small management services consulting firm.
Although her experience as a consultant for the U.S. Government was rewarding, Elnora had a nagging feeling that stuck with her since the day she became a volunteer for Howard University’s Chapter of the Big Brother Big Sister Program. She yearned to help young people. She wanted to teach, so Elnora moved back home in April of 1999 and she instantly fell in love with secondary education. Her proudest moment as a teacher was at Benton Harbor High School when her technology and business students organized a Peace Movement that resulted in a citywide official day of observance. One of Elnora’s most adamant quotes is, “I believe that love covers all, and if we understand the power of love and forgiveness, we can identify peaceful solutions. Fight for the solution instead of fighting each other and the problem will go away.” Her position at Benton Harbor High School sent Elnora on a journey of exponential growth prior to her departure in 2015.
She is grateful that most of her life’s work has been in line with the values that drive her: Love, Faith, Wisdom, Truth, Gratitude, Joy, Empowerment, Freedom, Abundance.
Elnora finds personal gratification in helping people and organizations identify creative solutions to nagging problems. One social issue Elnora is passionate about is poverty in the black community; therefore she focuses her efforts to inspire support for black business. Elnora is working to galvanize the community of all races to increase spending with black businesses at least every Friday. Her hash tag is “blackfridayeveryfriday.” Many patrons have shopped at black businesses they would have overlooked if not for promotions similar to these.
As a performance poet, Elnora under the stagename, Hail Storm, was recruited by director and writer Kareemah El Amin to play The Mistress in her stage play Lockdown Legacy. Hail Storm continues to perform her poetry in both local and national venues.
Elnora is a proud Christian woman, dedicated wife, loving mother, community organizer, and Chief Publishing Officer of MEracle Family Publishers. Her latest project includes a globally distributed children’s book entitled, Timey and Friends Amya Tells the Truth as well as her book of poetry, confessions and dedications entitled, Black Queen Speaks.
Last, but never least, is our delightful co-director and EMCEE:
BETH HAIRE-LEWIS, tireless community advocate, wife, and mom to one woman-child, is passionate about two things: her family and everything she does. Though she spent several years in Long Beach, California, raising her daughter and co-managing a jazz club, Beth was born and grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She resides happily there with her husband. Her many talents, besides putting everyone she meets at ease, are teaching water aerobics, singing, assistant choir directing, and community theater, including a role in Ragtime, as well as a recurring appearance in the Vagina Monologues. She emcees on occasion for The Livery’s Open Stage night, and is known to croon a silken tune as lead singer of the band SANKOFA and in church. For ten years, she has emceed and co-chaired the annual free community concert Gene Harris: Coming Home, Coming Together, which celebrates its 18th year on Sunday, June 26th, in downtown Benton Harbor’s Dwight Mitchell City Center Park. Beth is employed as an Early Intervention Specialist at CARES (Community AIDS and Resource Education Services), where she enjoys her outreach duties, helping people infected and affected by the HIV virus. As Listen to Your Mother: Southwest Michigan co-director, Beth looks forward to our second season and helping our local production feature our wonderful community and her passion for bringing it together.
You do not want to miss these incredible, moving stories!by