Guest Post: Honey Shine- Shine On by Kayla Haley

Tracy Wilson Mourning's Honey Shine program
Tracy Wilson Mourning’s Honey Shine program (photo by Amy Weiss)

Yolanda Jiorn, 18, struggled to share her voice with the world because she was afraid to speak in public. But, when she joined Honey Shine, a Miami mentoring program founded by Tracy Wilson Mourning, in the 5th grade, she found her voice and confidence.

“Seeing all the opportunities it offered me, I wish I could still have that,” she said. “Now as a counselor I see it as an opportunity to show it to the other girls who are in the program now and show them to appreciate it and not take it for granted.”

When Mourning, a designer, broadcast journalist, soon to be published author, and wife of former NBA player Alonzo Mourning moved back to her hometown in South Miami, she felt that addressing these needs would be part of her life journey.

“God placed it on my heart that I was supposed to do something with Honey Shine,” Mourning said. “And I listened, but didn’t act on it for many years. And then that voice wouldn’t be quiet.”

Tracy Wilson Mourning's Honey Shine program
Tracy Wilson Mourning’s Honey Shine program (photo by Amy Weiss)

Honey Shine was established by Mourning in 2002 to help instill values such as building community, responsibility and faith to underprivileged girls between the ages of 8 to 18. Edlyn Griffith, director of programs at Honey Shine, said that their overall goal is to “help enhance the lives of young girls; body, mind and spirit.”

“Our main focus is educational enrichment as well as making sure that they are provided with the tools that help them to make better choices in their lives,” said Griffith. “Then they can grow up to be self-sufficient young women.”

Research conducted by the American Psychological Association has shown that underprivileged children and teens are at a greater risk for poor academic achievement, dropping out of school and behavioral and emotional problems.

Honey Shine consists of bi-monthly workshops, field trips and an annual six-week day camp during the summer. All of these programs are geared towards making an impact on the new generation of girls they call “Honey Bugs.” The workshops provided to participants cover subjects from yoga, fitness, and self-defense classes, to financial literacy, robotics, music and therapy sessions.

Field trips to the beach, museums, and even colleges aim to expose the girls to the world around them.“That’s our goal of Honey Shine, to show our Honey Bugs that the world is theirs and they belong,” Mourning said. “I want our girls to know that they are worthy of learning and of quality education and opportunities.”

The journey of a Honey Bug does not end when they reach 18 years of age. Griffith said a lot of the girls will visit during their breaks from college. Former Honey Bug, Isis Graham, 18, says that the program has changed her life. “When I was younger, I had a lot of self-esteem issues,” Graham, a current camp counselor, said. “But with Honey Shine, I have grown so much. People are like ‘You are so different,’ but it’s really because of Honey Shine.”

Ashley Sturrup, 20, also a camp counselor, has been a member of Honey Shine since its founding year. “It helped me grow as a person,” Sturrup said. “It helped me to be independent. It taught me how to be a woman. It gave me confidence.”

During Honey Shine’s first year only 50 girls participated, but now approximately 400 girls have gone through the program, and more than 180 girls participate in the summer camp alone each year. Currently, there is a waiting list for the girls to get in.

With these various programs available, Griffith notes that Mourning’s vision has been personified in the girls who participate. Eleven years later, Honey Shine continues to be an environment where young girls and women are encouraged to practice sisterhood, mentoring and journaling. These practices are near and dear to Mourning’s heart, and are the reason that she is heavily involved with the program.

“It’s about exposure to the world around them.” Mourning said. “Go out and see the world. It’s yours. You belong”.

Kayla Haley is a high school student and aspiring journalist. Read more about her here, and check out images from Camp Honey Shine 2013 courtesy of student photographer Amy Weiss below.

Featured Dream Chaser: 1st Time Reporter Kayla Haley Faces Fears and Shines Light On @HoneyChildTracy ‘s Female Youth Empowerment Program

Kayla Haley

Meet Kayla Haley , a humble and extremely ambitious 18-year old who was among 19 other high school student reporters that I had the privilege to work with this past summer at the 30th annual James Ansin and Peace Sullivan High School Workshop in Journalism and New Media program. Her goal, to be able to tell stories that make a difference.

For her, like a few of the other student participants, it was a first time experience having to do research, contact complete strangers and interview them to pull a story together for the multiple media platforms. And boy was she nervous! I recall her being concerned about not having the experience of other student reporters, and being fearful of not landing the right interviews. But nonetheless, she landed all of the right interviews, including one with Tracy Mourning,  wife of former NBA All-star Alonzo Mourning as part of a feature on her non-profit girl empowerment organization Honey Shine.

As a mentor, I was able to go with Kayla on interviews with Honey Shine Director Edlyn Griffith, Tracy Mourning, and some of the “Honey Bug” participants. I was most impressed by the in-the-moment confidence, as well as the highest level of professionalism that she displayed.  She inspired me to share her story with my readers because she’s an example of how a “getting scared, but doing it anyway” approach can lead one closer to goals and dreams than being passive. In her article, Kayla tells the story of why Tracy started Honey Shine, and the effect that the program has had on young girls across South Florida. Check out her story below:


Kayla didn’t just face her fears while discovering what it means to be a journalist, but she showed resilience and tenacity after being told that her Honey Shine story would not be published due to technical difficulties.  As devastating as this news was, Kayla was ON TO THE NEXT! Hard work and determination, and one heartfelt pep-talk with yours truly not only allowed her to regroup and set out to do an entirely different story with media components, but she won the workshop’s Best Story 2013 Award! Whoop whoop! Click on the image below to read her investigative story on how homeless teens solicit help on social media.

Photo: I still can't believe this! Thank you again to everyone at Montage who made these past three weeks more than amazing! And thank you to my family and friends who prayed for me while I was gone!

I’d say that she’s already gotten a great start on setting her goals in motion. Hope you’re inspired too!



P.S.- Check out the other amazing stories on Homeless Youth in South Florida by participants in the JAPS Journalism and New Media Workshop here:

2013_UM_for Web_Miami Montage

Beauty Inspiration: Queen SNOB @IAmMingLee Is Living Her Dream (Documentary)

Ming Lee, Celebrity Hairstylist and Founder of (Queen SNOB)
Ming Lee, Celebrity Hairstylist and Founder of (Queen SNOB)

I am beyond a sucker for inspirational stories about those who have the audacity to go after their dreams. So when I was able to finally watch #DreamChaser Ming a.k.a. @IAmMingLee’s documentary about how she turned her dreams into a reality, I was totally inspired to share it here with you.  If you don’t know who Ming Lee is, not to be confused with the beautiful pre-teen daughter of Russell Simmons, here’s a few stats on her. She’s a 27-year old celebrity hairstylist based out of Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Detroit, who coined the term “SNOB Life” (for those who keep up on Instagram), and she’s making quite a name for herself.

snob life

I first took notice of her work while surfing YouTube a while ago and seeing some of her many hair tutorials and before and after shots of her own clients. To say the least, I was impressed. So much so that I clicked away at multiple links that lead to her website . The site offers a look into her world as a beauty expert, as well as her own online hair and apparel boutique, which she meticulously branded her namesake. It’s also the place where I discovered the term “SNOB” and everything that it stands for according to Ming and her social media followers. The term was born out of a long-held desire of Ming to one day be successful enough to live a lifestyle of the elite. And so it is.

I am building my empire for all women with the means to inspire all to be the Queen of their dreams and remembering to bring others up with you and to spread your blessings. – Celebrity Hairstylist Ming Lee

Now owner of her newly opened beauty oasis, Snob Life Studios in Atlanta, among other “SNOB-inspired” products, Ming is quickly growing her empire and creating a buzz while doing it. And she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. She even created what’s know as the “snob stare” (a.k.a the stank face) in the social media sphere, which had her followers stare-off frenzy. (Peep the stare below)

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I’ve followed Ming on Instagram for about a year now and I have gained the utmost respect for her story, her ambition and life philosophy, and her #DreamMaking and #DreamTaking pursuit to building her empire. Bravo Ming!! Totally looking forward to crossing paths with this self-made #BossLady. Until then, check out her self-told documentary It Was All A Dream (below), in which she offers highlights of her journey and encourage others to follow their dreams. Be inspired!   Love, @BCSTARKS [vimeo]

Words of Wisdom

Fear is a question: What are you afraid of and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them…

-Marilyn Ferguson

Fear is a habit; so is self-pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can!! and I will!!

-Napoleon Hill

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for correction and it’s not so bad. Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. So that what seems the ugly doctrine is one that comforts and strengthens you in the end. The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic

-C. S. Lewis

Are You A Prisoner Of Fear?

The topic of fear has been one that I’ve visited often on the blog. Mostly because it’s the main source of many things that keep us separate from our truths. I still struggle with my own fears as I try to figure out my path and challenge old beliefs that no longer serve me. And man is it difficult to shatter learned paradigms!

Let’s be honest, we all know what it feels like to have hopes and dreams. But most of us know more about just wishing than we do the sweet taste of victory that accomplishing goals can bring. That’s because all too often we are so quick to talk ourselves right off the path of achieving them because we fear that we aren’t good enough, don’t have enough time or money, or resources, etc…

How then, do we ever expect things to change if we’re not willing to meet GOD halfway? After all, we are 100% responsible for our 50% part in co-creation with HIM. Dreams don’t just fall in one’s lap. You have to do more than just pray, you have to take bold and swift action.

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead”- James 2:20 KJV

When you’ve done all that you can do with the spirit of excellence, God will match your effort with miraculous results. Sounds like something that you already know intellectually, right? Me too! Lol But that’s where this notion of fearful imprisonment comes in.

Being a prisoner of fear means playing small and shying away from your highest expression of self. It’s that thing you do instead of going after your dreams, or letting your voice be heard on things that matter most to you. Being a prisoner of fear means procrastination, because it’s much scarier to begin a thing, than it is to avoid it. Being a prisoner of fear means running away from the very things that you’ve always yearned for because to run towards it would almost make it too good to be true. As if you don’t deserve it… !!! Being a prisoner of fear means staying stuck in a cycle that just won’t let things get better for you.

Why we put ourselves through such agony and misery at times is one of humanities most sought after mysteries. So much so that religions have been formed around the very idea of either reasoning fear, easing fear or creating more of it.

Being a prisoner of fear is not what God intended for us, yet its the source of overcoming for many people’s journey. Often seen as a great protector, fear only means imprisonment when we keep ourselves separate from the expansion of spirit, and the new-found awareness to do and be more in life.  The result is we avoid honoring our callings, talents, visions, desires all because it scares us far more to face the fear than to overcome it.

Are you a prisoner fear? If, so I’d like to know how you came to realize it and what you aspire to do to overcome it. Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email and your testimony can be featured on the blog!

Until next time,