Valerie Brown is the founder and visionary of Lady Be Free Resource Center, which hosted the Lady Spring Forth Summit. Photo courtesy of Kathia Augustin of Katoutou Photography.
By ISHEKA N. HARRISON
BOCA RATON, Fla. – The anointing was heavy in the room filled with women pouring their hearts out through gospel music, fervent prayer, spoken word, spirit-filled preaching and powerful testimonies at the first annual Lady Spring Forth Summit held recently at the Boca Renaissance Hotel.
Geared towards helping women understand their worth and how much God loves them, the summit is the brainchild of Valerie Brown, domestic violence survivor, author and founder of The Lady Be Free Resource Center for Women, Inc., which provides protection, prevention and education to women who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Brown said the summit was designed to empower, encourage and uplift women of all ethnicities and backgrounds by exploring a variety of controversial and oftentimes avoided topics.
Pictured left: Attendees at the Lady Spring Forth Summit enjoyed a day of spirit-filled empowerment. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
“Sometimes we look at women and if they’re a certain class and a certain caliber, we judge them not knowing what they’ve been through,” Brown said.
She said that she had some challenges initially when seeking support for the summit.
“This event was not my event, its His (God’s),” Brown said. “I looked for sponsors and everyone said no. Then the Lord told me, ‘If you would have had a sponsor, they wouldn’t want you to talk about God all day.”
Under the theme “The Cost of Being Chosen,” the summit featured Grammy award-winning artist Le’Andria Johnson as the keynote speaker; HOT 105 radio personality Paula, host of “Sunday Morning Joy,” as the emcee; spoken word poet Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns and a host of other speakers from various backgrounds.
The speakers talked about an array of topics including: having gratitude, health and wellness, establishing healthy boundaries, monetizing your gifts, matters of the heart, rejection, love, relationships, singleness, faith and more.
Sherry Rudolph, President and CEO of Legally Clean Inc., told the women in attendance to avoid letting fear or inexperience keep them from chasing their dreams.
“Don’t die with your dreams inside of you. I didn’t even know what I was doing when I started my cleaning business, but I was fearless,” Rudolph said. “Shut the dream killers out because those people, while they love you, they don’t understand. Be fearless about your gift.
Even if you don’t understand your dream, keep doing it.”
Dr. Janice Dillard, Chief Apostle at Revival Faith Center Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, told the women it was critical they forgive for their own sakes.
“Unforgiveness is a sin of iniquity. It causes separation from God and nobody I know is worth being separated from God,” Dillard said. “If you’re going to go forward in the things of God, you’re going to have to be able to get over some stuff.”
Johnson told the women to have faith, patience and trust Jesus.
“You determine your own fate by your faith. Jesus said, ‘You not believing in me doesn’t take anything away from me, it doesn’t hurt me, it hurts you,’ Johnson said. “Just because He promised you something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it today or tomorrow, but you need to believe it and receive it.”
Women came from as far as Canada to participate in the summit and each attendee received a bracelet with the word ‘survivor’ on it.
Brown’s mentee Shanya Roberts, a high school senior, ministered a beautiful liturgical dance and afterwards became the first to receive the “Lady Be Free Little Lady Award.” Roberts has overcome many obstacles, including losing her mother at an early age. She will be attending college in the fall.
Brown said she wants other women to experience the same freedom she has received as a survivor of abuse.
“I know what it has taken to overcome … to become a survivor. If I can do it, other women can too. With the right tools, the right resources, the right inspiration, each of us has the power within us to experience liberating freedom and walk boldly into our destiny,” Brown said.