Reorganize, relax and release.

Reorganize, relax and release.


“It’s time for moms to change the rules!”

This event focused on how mamas can maintain self-care while advocating for themselves, family and community.  This was also the time to learn a skill and immediately perform it.  The afternoon switched gears to complete wellness and health workshops.  We showed appreciation to everyone’s commitment to change and we were so happy to welcome all to our Mama-vist family members.

This year’s summit was held at the Michigan Union building on the University of Michigan campus.  It was a day of education, action, reflection and recharging.  We wanted attendants to feel empowered while being pampered.  Advocacy and activism in any capacity can be extremely draining and stress-inducing, especially when you have a family.  Mothering Justice understands that and wanted to highlight the strength and bravery in those efforts.

We had the lovely Violeta Donawa of the Healing by Choice group.  This is a circle of women-of-color healers and health practitioners offering a range of healing modalities to communities within the city of Detroit. It was formed to lead experiential workshops and offer community events for self-care and the reduction of racial harm in mind, body, and institution.

Violeta Donawa gave the audience different practices they can implement at home to facilitate self-care.  She opened the floor for women to share how they currently utilize this ideology within their safe space.  She closed her presentation with a moment of calming meditation and an uplifting song of female empowerment.

The event then turned to the training portion of the day with experienced instructors in various areas of advocacy.

Denzel McCampbell of Progress MI hosted “Why the story of YOU is important in the Movement” workshop.  He explained how your personal experiences coupled with simple communication techniques are key to positively enforcing your narrative.  That why your message resonates with a larger audience on a more emotional level.  This is what encourages folks to get involved and perform an action on your behalf.  He then acted volunteers to share their stories on camera and use the tools they just learned on site.

Renell Weathers of Michigan League for Public Policy (mlpp) hosted the “They call it ‘welfare’, we call it ‘safety net’ and it needs to be protected” workshop.  She simplified the complexities of policy language and how it affects our lives.  She also had the participants write letters to elected officials on various topics that matter to them. They were collected and mailed by Mothering Justice on their behalf.

Graham Kovich and Shawn Force, both with Restaurants Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC MI), both hosted the “Importance of economic stability for working families” workshop.  Their presentation focused on why all of these advocacy organizations team up to form coalitions that fight for the same cause: economic stability for everyone.

Danielle Smith-Boyd, a the founder of a Maternal Infant Health Program called “Mother’s Observing Mothers” and a non-profit called “Born For Me LLC.”  She facilitated our ‘The hand that rocks the cradle saves lives’ workshop.  She was able to share various ways to keep you and your baby healthy.  Danielle explained the correlation between lack of access to medical care and the rise in maternal and infant mortality over the last few years in the U.S.  She supported that analysis with her years of research and patient care.

Our keynote speaker was Charlene Carruthers.  She’s the National Director for the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100).  Charlene is a Black, queer, feminist, community organizer and writer with over 10 years of experience in racial justice, feminism and youth leadership development movement work.  Charlene is deeply committed to working with young organizers seeking to create a more loving and just world.  Some of her recognition’s include the “Movement Builder Award” by the U.S. Students Association and the winner of the “New Organizing Institute 2015 Organizer of the Year Award”.  Her writing has been featured in Ebony Magazine,, USA Today and the Washington Post.  She earned her B.A. in History & International Studies from Illinois Wesleyan University.  She then received a Master of Social Work at Washington University.  Charlene was born, raised and still resides in Chicago and continues to lead while partaking in social justice movements.

This year we wanted to recognize three of our most outstanding volunteers.  This decision was difficult because we have so many wonderful Mama-vists but our collective agreement fell on Nicole Banks and Dana Hill-Belton.

Nicole Banks founded the Young Women’s Initiative Alliance.  The mission of this group is “through the study of the Word of God, gain self-esteem, confidence, strength, empowerment, and support to live an abundant life”.  She’s been married for 22 years and has four beautiful children.

Dana Hill-Belton is a social worker, who has been proudly working spiritually, professionally, and physically for the rights of others since 1998.  She’s a Detroit native that presently resides in Ferndale.  Always working to build, strengthen, and educate those she’s assisting while continuing her education on policies that increase barriers creating difficulties for others.

After the lunch festivities, attendance participated in various self-care sessions.  We offered Reiki massage, ear acupuncture, focusing therapy, meditation and nutrition.  All of these options were offered by the Healing by Choice group.  The founder is Adela Nieves, a Traditional Community Health and Healing Arts Practitioner and community organizer.  She finds the intersection of each space important for growth.  Her philosophy is to support those in their journeys to tell their own stories and define health, healing, and wellness for themselves.

This year was a first in offering tabling opportunities for small businesses, vendors and partner organizations.  Those in attendance included Moms Demand Action, Planned Parenthood, National Organization for Women, Wayne County Friend of the Court, Just Jameen Products, Read Now LLC, and Charles Collectibles.  Our partners not present but huge contributors were Black Women’s Roundtable, Center for the Education of Women, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, Family Values at Work, Michigan League for Public Policy, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

We want to show a huge amount of gratitude to all of the attendants, sponsors, vendors, partner organizations, speakers and health practitioners for giving their time and energy to this event.  We make to give a special thank you to the main organizers of this years summit, Tomicka Robinson and Tameka Ramsey.  We appreciate your efforts and attention to detail which made this day amazing and invigorating!