MIAMI — What do a marketing guru, attorney and multidisciplinary artist have in common? A firm commitment to serve community, particularly impoverished youth who at the tender ages of 11 through 17 have already been introduced to the legal and justice systems in America.
Suzan McDowell, president and CEO of Circle of One Marketing, and Natasha Mayne of the Mayne Law Group, united with artist Alexis Caputo and car giant Maroone/Auto-nation to present Caputo’s Afro Diaries during last week’s Girl Power & World Literacy Crusade.
Girl Power, a not-for-profit women’s organization led by Thema Campbell, president and CEO, is a community social change engine whose goal is to promote positive behavior, enhance social skills and improve academic performance in adolescent girls.
Girl Power offers several empowerment programs to young girls and their families throughout Miami-Dade County, including an alternative-to-suspension program, an afterschool program, summer camp, mentoring, and post-detention programs.
Since its inception, Girl Power has helped to reduce the arrest rate of young girls by ninety percent.
The organization’s Post Arrest Diversion Program serves girls 17 and under who have been arrested for nonviolent offenses and are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Girl Power’s mission is to empower girls and their families to succeed in order to protect, restore and preserve the family unit, and thus make a fundamental difference in the community. The girls who participate in the program are taught skills that resolve conflicts responsibly, as well as resist and reduce the violence and abuse in their lives.
Their progress was evident in comments from some of the participants. “I recognize how important it is to try and understand others,” said Nehemy Derine. “This workshop gave me a different perspective.” Twonkeria Antoine said she was “more willing to talk with other girls and realize how much we can do together and not against each other by listening and taking the time to care.” Jamirah Gause added, “I really believe in myself.”
Campbell said she is most proud of her ability to carry out a tradition in her family of taking in and caring for young girls. “Girl Power allows them to embrace the world,” she said.
Caputo’s Afro Diaries are comprised of excerpts from the multidisciplinary artist, poet, writer and journalist’s portfolio of solo and collaborative performances. The excerpts offer a window into the miscarriages women
endure, whether addressing the critical issues of race, class, gender, identity, cultural, human rights, social concerns and other issues creating conflict and inequality in society.
“The fact is, if one woman is at a deficit, all women are. Women and girls belong in the world building communities, not in prisons, jails and detention centers decaying from systems designed to place them there.”
McDowell has long supported arts, cultural, educational, social and charitable causes, demonstrating a commitment to supporting projects that benefit society’s longterm welfare.
Mayne has been equally influential. Aside from operating a respected South Florida law firm, she serves on the board of Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center, which is where the supportive relationship developed during Caputo’s service to Mournings’ organization.
“I’ve longed to engage in service that benefits young girls,” Mayne said, “and am honored to be a part of supporting Afro Diaries in this endeavor. The work is necessary. This is the beginning of so much more to come. What is vital is that we recognize the importance of and are active in giving back to community, and we want to afford these girls every opportunity to better shape their lives.”
*Pictured above are Twonkeria Antoine and Meilana Wilson