National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and something we really celebrate at HWLF. Our namesake loved poetry, and several of our Board and Team Members are poets. Some of our earliest programming, Modge Podge Poetry, Homeroom Poetry, and Eye Recite Presents, all have a foundation of poetry as a learning tool and permission slip to express yourself.

Some of our earliest programming, Modge Podge Poetry, Homeroom Poetry, and Eye Recite Presents, all have a foundation of poetry as a learning tool and permission slip to express yourself. We know and understand the power of poetry!

There are a few poetry events left before the month ends, and we at HWLF highly encourage you to attend one of these events if you can. Please consider supporting a poet, open mic, or poetry organization, as community-based poetry continues to be one of the most underfunded artistic art forms.

This year’s NPM poster features the words, “There’s a poem in this place” from poet Amanda Gorman’s poem, In This Place.

Every place and space that HWLF occupies will always be filled with poetic musings, dreams, and truth. As Poet Rita Dove shares, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful,” and HWLF will continue to use its voice to help shift power to the people.

There’s a poem in this place—
in the footfalls in the halls
in the quiet beat of the seats.
It is here, at the curtain of day,
where America writes a lyric
you must whisper to say.

There’s a poem in this place—
in the heavy grace,
the lined face of this noble building,
collections burned and reborn twice.

There’s a poem in Boston’s Copley Square
where protest chants
tear through the air
like sheets of rain,
where love of the many
swallows hatred of the few.

There’s a poem in Charlottesville
where tiki torches string a ring of flame
tight round the wrist of night
where men so white they gleam blue—
seem like statues
where men heap that long wax burning
ever higher
where Heather Heyer
blooms forever in a meadow of resistance.

There’s a poem in the great sleeping giant
of Lake Michigan, defiantly raising
its big blue head to Milwaukee and Chicago—
a poem begun long ago, blazed into frozen soil,
strutting upward and aglow.

There’s a poem in Florida, in East Texas
where streets swell into a nexus
of rivers, cows afloat like mottled buoys in the brown,
where courage is now so common
that 23-year-old Jesus Contreras rescues people from floodwaters.

There’s a poem in Los Angeles
yawning wide as the Pacific tide
where a single mother swelters
in a windowless classroom, teaching
black and brown students in Watts
to spell out their thoughts
so her daughter might write
this poem for you.             

There’s a lyric in California
where thousands of students march for blocks,
undocumented and unafraid;
where my friend Rosa finds the power to blossom
in deadlock, her spirit the bedrock of her community.
She knows hope is like a stubborn
ship gripping a dock,
a truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer
or knock down a dream.

How could this not be her city
su nación
our country
our America,
our American lyric to write—
a poem by the people, the poor,
the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew,
the native, the immigrant,
the black, the brown, the blind, the brave,
the undocumented and undeterred,
the woman, the man, the nonbinary,
the white, the trans,
the ally to all of the above
and more?

Tyrants fear the poet.
Now that we know it
we can’t blow it.
We owe it
to show it
not slow it
although it
hurts to sew it
when the world
skirts below it.       

Hope—
we must bestow it
like a wick in the poet
so it can grow, lit,
bringing with it
stories to rewrite—
the story of a Texas city depleted but not defeated
a history written that need not be repeated
a nation composed but not yet completed.

There’s a poem in this place—
a poem in America
a poet in every American
who rewrites this nation, who tells
a story worthy of being told on this minnow of an earth
to breathe hope into a palimpsest of time—
a poet in every American
who sees that our poem penned
doesn’t mean our poem’s end.

There’s a place where this poem dwells—
it is here, it is now, in the yellow song of dawn’s bell
where we write an American lyric
we are just beginning to tell.

Copyright © 2017 by Amanda Gorman.

We All Have A STORY

In March of 2021, Henry Williams Love Foundation launched the Survivance Project supported by The Field Foundation of Illinois. The aim of the Survivance project was to capture stories 1 year after the pandemic from those who identify as African/African American, LatinX, Arab, Asian, or Native American. You can check those stories out at https://survivance.io. The oral tradition of storytelling is rooted deeply in many cultures and especially represented in the African Diaspora. The namesake for HWLF was an amazing storyteller himself.

In 2022, Survivance participated in Chicago’s Fillet of Solo Storytelling Conference and presented a series of stories; “Dear 21 Year Old Me: Reflections of Black Women in their 40’s to their 21-year-old selves.” The series was well received and has paved the way for other storytelling series to come as well as some upcoming conference presentations on storytelling. Stay Tuned!

Benefit Concert dinner-12/11/21 6pm

Henry Williams Love Foundation (HWLF) is a 501c3 organization that provides short-term supportive services, advocacy, and policy support to youth and families in need. Our organization’s namesake, Henry Williams, lost his father at 9 years old and then his mother at 11 years old. Losing his parents at a very young age was devastating to Henry and his three siblings. As such, he always demonstrated the greatest capacity for love to those who experience such unplanned loss, unexpected needs, and require advocacy. That is the foundation this organization is built upon.

Join us for the inaugural Henry Williams Love Foundation Benefit Concert Dinner on Saturday, December 11, 2021 starting at 6pm at the Eta Creative Arts Center. Suggested donation is $25 where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the HWLF Emergency Services and Unplanned Loss Program.

The HWLF Emergency Services and Unexpected Loss Program provides direct financial support to over 50 families in Metropolitan Chicago each year who need a dose of love to help them through challenging times. But we need your help to continue helping others. COVID-19 has taken so much from so many and our requests for help far exceed our fund’s capacity.

Donation Tickets are available https://bit.ly/hwlfbenefitconcert21. If you are unable to make the benefit concert, donations can be sent directly through the HWLF website at https://henrywilliamslove.org/donations/.

Thank You so much for helping us keep #love at the center of service!

It’s the Black Business Incubation For Us!

We are so proud of all of the business participating in our Black Business Incubation program! Change is hard. Acquiring new knowledge and skills and then putting them into practice is hard. Staying consistent and committed to the vision is often hard. But all of this hard work will pay off and we hope you have seen the benefits from your participation and all the coaching.Open Enrollment for the next cohort for participants will open in April. Our pilot program was in Chicago and Lansing/Detroit. We are expanding to a city near you this summer. Keep following the HWLF FB Page and website for application release dates and new locations. #doingourpart #skillbuilding #strategy #fundraising #communicationskills #BlackHistoryMonth #blackbusinesses

Happy New Year 2021!

One of the founding principles of HWLF is LOVE. It’s the third word in our name and representative of our organizational goal of creating more harmony, sharing wisdom, and increasing understanding. In 2020, we all had to pivot and demonstrate great resilience. More of the same will be required in 2021 and HWLF will do our best to continue demonstrating love to those in need of it. Wishing you peace, prosperity, and good health to all of you.

Connected Through Hoops-Mastering Your Emotions

Due to COVID-19, Connected Through Hoops went virtual and created a series of videos featuring fathers and sons having life conversations and practicing basketball skills drills. The call-to-action is for fathers or father-adjacent men to gather the boys in your lives and watch the videos together, have conversations, and practice the skill drills. We are hopeful that more connections can be made through hoops, even in a pandemic. The fourth video features Pierre Pierce and his son Jaxson demonstrating some examples of mastering emotions.

Hennessy Unfinished Business Grant

For the past four weeks, Henry Williams Love has been running a micro pilot program for 10 Black Businesses in the midwest thanks to grant funding received by the Hennessy Unfinished Business Grant Program. Hennessy provided $1,500 and Henry Williams Love Foundation contributed $1,000 to ensure every business in this pilot would have access to $250 cash. One Hundred Black Men, Inc. acted as the fiscal agent as part of the advisory council for the grant. All of the in-kind supportive services being provided to these businesses are valued at $3,000. So the total cost of this micro pilot is actually $32,500.

Participating business completed a pre-consultation survey and were asked to identify one thing outside of funding/revenue that could help their business. Each business received a one-hour consulting call to identify an area of improvement and $250 to address that area. Each business then received a follow-up correspondence listing up to four recommendations to improve their business infrastructure. For example, Markell Thompson has always loved cooking, but COVID-19 presented an opportunity for him to launch Chef Kells Kitchen, LLC, a home delivery meal service business.

Chef Kells Kitchen has some buzz on Facebook, but Markell felt like he was not marketing or advertising enough, nor did he have the time to between cooking and making deliveries. Many small businesses, especially newly launched businesses struggle in this area when there is only one person running the business.

Through his consulting session, Markell received:

  1. Coaching and resources on automating his ordering directly through a free Facebook app that will save him time on the phone and text messages.
  2. A free auto-scheduler for social media posts including the posting of menus.
  3. ServSafe Managers certificate testing.
  4. One hour with a storytelling coach to help him better target his market and create further appetite for his food.

The micro pilot is a short-term triage ready approach to small businesses to give them a bit of support as they continue to develop their business plan and strategy. All ten businesses participating in this pilot will receive coaching and mentorship for 3 months. HWLF implemented this micro pilot as an opportunity to inform our larger Black Business Incubation program and ensure several points of entry for Black businesses at different stages. Micro pilot participants will receive supportive services to address one business issue for three months. Full Service Suite participants will receive supportive services for up to 12 months.

One of the guiding principles of Black Business Incubation is creating a safe space to ideate, learn, network, and co-work in a welcoming, non-judgmental and trauma-informed environment. HWLF understands the impact systematic racism, racial injustice, and deep financial disinvestment have on Black Businesses. The “doing more with even less than less” adage is a common theme among Black Businesses whether for-profit or non-profit. Participation in this micro pilot is not the complete answer, but certainly is a viable solution that can be sustained with resources. HWLF is actively fundraising and seeking funding partnerships to support the activities under the Black Business Incubation program. Individual donations to support can be made directly here: Support Henry Williams Love Foundation.

Interested in participating in the Black Business Incubation Program?

Complete this interest form: HTTP://BIT.LY/BLACKBUSINESSINTEREST.

Please contact us for any questions about the Black Business Incubation program.