Prepping Christian Children for Public School

Back to school time is here! In some states, children have already returned to classes. While entering a new school year is exciting, it can be also be stressful. Like many Christian parents, you may have concerns when sending your child to a public school for the first time. Continue reading “Prepping Christian Children for Public School”

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A Mother’s Love: Celebrating March of Dimes

Stacey D. Stewart joined March of Dimes as its fifth President on January 1, 2017.  In this role, Stewart heads the organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s strategy, vision and operations.

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CFU: How long has the March of Dimes been in existence?

SS: March of Dimes is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2018. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded our organization in 1938 to fight the terrible epidemic of polio that paralyzed and killed thousands — mainly children — every year. With March of Dimes support, Dr. Jonas Salk and later Dr. Albert Sabin developed safe and effective vaccines against polio, to the tremendous relief of Americans and people around the world. Today our mission is to lead the fight to improve the health of all moms and babies.

CFU: What role does the March of Dimes play in supporting the health of mothers and their unborn babies?

SS: March of Dimes is the leading organization for the health of moms and babies, fighting for all families no matter who they are, where they live or what they can afford. We are working to reduce the rising rate of premature birth in this country, with a focus on populations and geographic regions that need our help most. We believe there is an urgent need to address the unacceptable racial and ethnic disparities in infant and maternal death and illness.

SS: We are funding critical research focused on finding the unknown causes of premature labor and new ways to prevent it with an international network of six Prematurity Research Centers.

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PREEMIE Act

SS: March of Dimes advocates for policies that prioritize the health of moms, babies and families — for example, the PREEMIE Act that was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). We’re very pleased that this important initiative is moving forward to renew and improve federal programs aimed at preventing and treating preterm birth.

Maternal Mortality

SS: Additionally, Congress will soon consider the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318) and the Maternal Health Accountability Act (S. 1112). If passed, these would support states in establishing or improving maternal mortality review committees and examine every case of maternal death in order to identify causes and patterns. These are needed pieces of legislation as the maternal mortality rate is not only increasing, but at the highest of any country in the developed world.

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CFU: What are some of the common reasons that women of reproductive age are not more proactive when it comes to their health?

SS: Every woman wants to have a healthy baby. However, we know that many women do not get the health care they need when they need it. Quality health care before pregnancy and proven interventions to reduce the risk of premature birth are not made available to all women, particularly black and Hispanic women, lower income women, and women in underserved geographic areas.

SS: One result of this inequity is that the preterm birth rate among black women is about 50 percent higher than the rate among white women. March of Dimes is committed to leveling the playing field to give all babies a fighting chance.

CFU: Do the changing politics that surround healthcare such as budget cuts and policy changes also affect the March of Dimes’ organization?

SS: We have played and continue to play critical roles in shaping state, national and local policies and healthcare practices for women, infants, children and families. Our 80-year record of success reflects our bipartisan commitment to working with policymakers and healthcare providers.

Publicly Supported Health Care

SS: With a number of states making their own changes to health care in response to uncertainties at the Federal level, it’s important that we engage at both the federal and state levels and protect critical safety nets such a Medicaid and other publicly supported programs. It’s critical we work collectively to ensure women and children can continue to count on these essential health programs.

CFU: What are some of the major challenges now impacting your organization and how can the public assist?

SS: Recent changes in philanthropy and disruptions to the economy have been challenging to many nonprofits, including March of Dimes. Ensuring that every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. has insurance that includes pregnancy care is an ongoing struggle.

Public Support Needed

SS: There is an urgent need for new solutions to address the threat of premature birth and growing racial and ethnic inequities. Now more than ever, March of Dimes needs the public’s support for our efforts from research to education to advocacy. We ask the public to join us in our mission by donating, raising awareness and speaking out to their elected officials to support moms and babies across the nation.

Movie Chat: “A Question of Faith”

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Angela White is the founder of Silver Lining Entertainment, LLC, a family owned Multimedia Entertainment Company based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, producer motivational speaker, author and industry coach/strategist.

Angela recently made history,  by becoming the first African American woman to produce a theatrical faith-based film, entitled “A Question of Faith,” which stars Kim Fields, Richard T. Jones, C. Thomas Howell, GregAlan Williams, Renee O’Connor, Jaci Velasquez and TC Stallings.

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CFU: In the film “A Question of Faith” you address many real-life issues such as forgiveness.  What are some of the consequences of not dealing with not forgiving? 

AW: The process of forgiving is hard for everyone, but we must be like Christ and forgive others.  When you harbor on to ill-feelings, the lack of forgiveness can internally eat you up, which will ultimately affect your life.

In the “A Question of Faith” discussion guide, I wrote some teachable concepts regarding forgiveness:

  • In order to forgive, you have to free yourself from the hurt; anger, pain and any negative feelings that are holding you back from living out God’s purpose for you.
  • Letting go ultimately allows a spiritual transformation in your life.
  • Never allow pride to stop you from uniting with God on a spiritual level.  In time, God will heal your heart and replace it with a humble spirit to look at situations from a different perspective.

AW: Let’s not forget our Bible verses in Luke 6:35-37 or Roman 12: 17-20, which guides us on the power of letting go. The power of forgiveness was an important element of “A Question of Faith” but necessary to show how we can all be like Christ and you may be surprised on what’s on the other side of letting go.

CFU: The film also depicts a couple who is faced with the decision of whether or not commit to having their loved one’s organs used to save another person’s life. What are some of the common stigmas surrounding organ donation? I’ve heard that there are Christians who believe that a body not intact is a body that won’t enter Heaven.

AW: “A Question of Faith” partnered with “Donate Life of America,” who educated us for about a year on many stigmas and false stereotypes that comes with being an organ donor or recipient.  One of the first things that I realized about organ donation, as I was very naive to this subject, was the number of people that receive an organ a year and there are many.  Organs donated range from eyes, lungs, hearts, kidneys, blood vessels, liver, tissue, pancreas, etc, so there are many parts of the body that can be in need due to a failing health issue.

Organ Donation Crisis

AW: Also, I did not know the number of people that die per year because they do not receive an organ.  Organ donation is a serious life issue and I say that with all sincerity, as I know some people do not agree.  I am African American and we have some of the highest diabetes rates in the world.  Many African Americans with diabetes or other health complications require an organ at some point due to a failing health issue.  Many African Americans with diabetes are subject to needing a kidney transplant at some point if their health fails and we are not donating enough to save people’s lives.  I had to learn that giving an organ to someone in need is the most purest form of love for the recipient.  And, for the recipient, to receive an organ is God’s grace.

Importance of Organ Donation

AW: Thus, people need to be educated on the importance of signing to up to save someone’s life.  The community at large needs more organ donors and I think people would be surprised how many people they already know might have already been a recipient or donor. God gave us his son, Jesus, so he is the first organ donor in my humble opinion. It is not your body that goes into heaven but your spirit.  When we are buried, it is said, “dust to dust” and “ashes to ashes” and we were formed from dust. Thus, our physical earthly body will die but our spirit is what moves on to Heaven.

CFU: Texting and driving or operating a vehicle while distracted is another issue raised in the film. Many people feel that this is only an issue with younger drivers such as the character in the film. How do you see “A Question of Faith” helping to raise awareness of this as not just an age issue?

AW: The issue of texting and driving is not a young people issue but a highway and transportation major crisis going on everywhere in this country.  I was very proud to highlight this issue in the movie, as there are so many accidents that happen every minute due to someone distracted by their cell phone.

Texting and Driving

AW: The film partnered with many national organizations to highlight this issue and the statistics surrounding the number of people that die per day as a result of a distracted driver were alarming.  I hope we shed some light on the seriousness of being a distracted driver and that one minute in time can alter and change not only your life but someone else’s.

CFU: “A Question of Faith” also tackles a character who’s views of race nearly destroyed his livelihood. In a society that often appears to be increasingly more intolerant of each other, how can our nation begin to heal the divide?

AW:  We openly wanted to address the issues of race in America for many reasons as we are in a moment in history, where we have the commander and chief dividing our country into two.  It is funny how history will repeat itself if we are not careful about our leadership and making sure the next generation understands the past.  As we are in 2018, race relations are worse than 1980 to some people.

AW: The statement by itself is shocking and some would argue, it is not that bad, but I disagree.  Young people of color are dying every day at the hands of police officer, who are supposed to protect us and hate crimes are on a rise.  We need to address race relations before the country can heal.  If we ignore the past, it will continue to repeat.

We the People

AW: As a people, we must come together and have an open dialogue about race. If we ignore the race topic, we can never begin healing.  Further, we must remove leadership that continues to divide the races.  So, this is a tough question as there are a lot of moving parts that must happen prior to healing and one being having an open dialogue from both sides on their perceived feelings, so we can start having some honest conversations.

AW: A lot of race issues are from perceived perceptions that are not factual or accurate.  If people would even take the time to sit down and talk, we would realize we are more alike than not. Just pray that our country can start having an open dialogue, so the healing can be possible.

CFU: You are the first African American woman to produce and release a mass-market faith-based movie, did you know when you started to work on the project that you were going to be a pioneer and is the faith-based market friendlier to female producers than the mainstream?

AW: You know when I started to produce, “A Question of Faith” I had no idea of this market or the players that came before me.  I was completely uninformed of the fact that not many African-Americans, in general were not in this movie genre.  Thus, after producing the movie, a year later, a publicist brought this fact to my attention and I was genuinely surprised with mixed emotions.  Of course, I was elated that a milestone could be reached and then I was sad that it took until 2017 for this to happen.

AW: The milestone reminded me of how much work African American filmmakers still have to do in this industry. I am just happy for anything that I can offer and bring to the table and I want to inspire the new generation coming up, so they can continue to break barriers for others.

Paying it Forwarding

AW: We must all pay it forward and I just want to be the best possible example of a female producer and help as many as I can to reach their goals and dreams in this tumultuous industry and it is not easy and the genre does not make a difference.  I have learned after producing so many movies that all the genres are the same, as this is show “business” and regardless of your theme, you have to be smart, diligent and prepared to work really hard and sometimes by yourself.

AW: Lastly, faith films are still considered a niche by many, so the workload is even heavier, as you have a particular audience to reach that might not normally go the movie theaters, so you really need to make sure your film not only stands out but has a great message.  The faith audience cannot be fooled, so your work and story must be authentic.  With all this said, it just raises my work ethic and the bar for excellence in this industry.

A Question of Faith” is available everywhere on DVD and is currently airing on Netflix

O Taste and See: Veggies are Really Good

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There’s no debating that veggies are a key to a maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. But when it comes to making changes in our eating habits it can be downright challenging.

If that’s not enough, how about those who have committed themselves to becoming totally vegetarian or vegan. The mere thought of it is enough to make some of us run for the hills.  By the way, vegan is not short for vegetarian.

Even if you, like me aren’t quite there yet when it comes to giving up meat entirely, you can still incorporate some healthy and delicious alternatives to your menu. Continue reading “O Taste and See: Veggies are Really Good”