Lives: Waltherson in Northeast Baltimore City
Family: Spouse, Charmon;
Children: Langston, 10, and Cimone, 6
Occupation: Communications Coordinator/Community, Health Worker for SiNERGe
Tell us about your work and how you got in the field.
My position with Sickle Cell improvement across the NorthEast ReGion through education (SiNERGe) is grant funded through the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As the communications coordinator, I work with community-based organizations on activities, engagements and social-media efforts to keep people informed about sickle cell diseases, particularly those people who are affected directly by it.
As a community health worker, I receive referrals for individuals who have sickle cell disease and assist them with resources in the community for food, housing, transportation and insurance. I work with 17 partners in the Northeast Region and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
When my 6-year-old daughter, Cimone, was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at 6 weeks old, I educated myself and wanted to start a support group for parents who also didn’t know what to do after getting that diagnosis. I began Cimone and Friends, a community organization that has led me to my current role, and started attending sickle cell events all over the country.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
Yes, I have several. One of my mentors is Marcy Crump, an advocate for Baltimore who loves the city with her whole heart. She champions for Baltimore through good times and bad. Marcy gave me an opportunity as a staff writer for her magazine The Flywire [which is devoted to the city’s urban entertainment and lifestyle scene] and has always instilled in me the value of hard work.
Dr. Karen Proudford of the William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund is also a mentor. She has shown me what true love is when someone you are caring for suffers from sickle cell disease. She has taught me how we must fight the disease not only for our loved ones, but for the whole underserved community.
Finally, my grandmother, Naomie A. Wainwright, is also a huge role model. She is a retired educator from Baltimore City Public Schools who raised me and has looked after me since I was 3 years old. That’s for 39 years. My grandmother gave me the core values of education, selflessness and determination. If it were not for her, I am not sure where I would be today. I am so blessed to still have her in my life.
What advice can you give working parents?
Always tell your children you love them as much as you can. As a working parent with many responsibilities, it is often required that I am away from home. It can sometimes be draining. I travel a lot for work, and my schedule is very demanding. Recently, two close friends of mine lost their children, and it was truly a wake-up call. I’ve always told my children I love them, but now I make sure that they not only hear me, but that they feel it. Whether or not they make you upset, make sure that your children know that you love them no matter what.
What is the best advice another parent has given you?
The best three pieces of advice other parents have given me are: to let your children make mistakes; to show them diversity and encourage it; and to watch your behavior in front of them, because your children are a reflection of you.
How do you manage your career and your family life?
My husband and daughter both suffer from sickle cell disease, and my son also has the trait. Because my career is based around sickle cell, I am able to include them in a lot of my activities. From charity events to family events, we are all brought closer together. I have long days sometimes, and my husband picks up when I need him to. He is the calm in the storm.
How do you de-stress?
I de-stress in several ways. I have a standing appointment with my therapist every week. It is totally necessary for me. I get a great blowout and manicure/pedicure every two weeks, and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than a clear mind with a fresh blowout and a mani-pedi!
I have recently started a skin-care line, and I am working on a big event for the sickle cell community for the end of the year. I just want to make my family proud of me.