Next up we have Charlotte Miller-Lacy in our Inspiring Women Series of 2022! Charlotte is the Founder and National Executive Director of I Am My Sister’s Keeper, which is a nonprofit with the mission of empowering girls and women to pursue their dreams and passions.
Give us a little background on the organization?
I Am My Sister’s Keeper was actually founded out of my tentative placement. My job was Director of Student Services for Parkway Academy North in Wilmington, Delaware, and what I saw were young girls coming in and out … like a revolving door. So I said, “You know what, let me have a conversation with them and see what’s going on”. I invited them to lunch and … that conversation was about what was happening with them? Why were they fighting? Why were they coming back and forth into this program? And, the whole thing out of that was they just didn’t know who they were. When you don’t know who you are it’s almost like a chessboard; people can move you around and say, “Oh, you’re this!” or “You’re that!”… Well, if you don’t [identify with that] then what do you need to do about it? How can you change that trajectory?… [H]ow you change it is through exposure and opportunities. That’s how you get to know yourself. … [W]hen you’re 12 years old, 13 or 14, what is [your] authentic self? …[T]hat’s what I found in those young girls. So what I did was, I invited women from all walks of life to a tea party. And what I said to them was, I need you to be in your authentic self. I know you have impressive resumes, doctor, lawyer, you know, teacher, whatever, but I need that real person to talk about your story … So each year, our program year starts with a tea party. It started with eight girls and has now grown with participants, at this tea party, now over 350 in our sixth year.
“When you don’t know who you are it’s almost like a chessboard; people can move you around…”
Can you tell us about an accomplishment that you are the most proud of?
I think the biggest accomplishment [is] … in the community, I am called “Mama Lacy”. That is such a big accomplishment for me. To hear people, to hear families, to hear mothers, to hear fathers, say, “If mama Lacy is a part of it, my daughter can be a part of it”, “If Mama Lacy is a part of it, I know they’re going to be taken care of”. That, still today, gives me little chills; because it says, “Okay, I did something, right”. I did something right and that something right that I wanted to do, is to care about someone other than myself. …It doesn’t have anything to do with money, doesn’t have anything to do with accolades, doesn’t have anything to do with “Oh, Miss Lacy is up here…”, it has to do with the real caring. And like I said, we meet with our girls first Saturday and the third Saturday of every month, but it doesn’t stop there. …it’s more than just gathering these girls on a certain Saturday. It’s about life, being in their life. … They want to reach out to let me know “What we’re doing in this group, ‘I hear you, Ms. Lacy’ ”, and I’m able to use some … of the things … in our toolbox. … I’m able to pull from that. Then they’re proud of themselves when they do that. And, I think that’s one of my biggest accomplishments that I just love.
“…that something right that I wanted to do is to care about someone other than myself.”
How do you define success?
I define success in what comes back. I’ll explain that. When I first started this program, we had eight girls, and then it dropped to five. I said “Oh, my God. What is going on?” And someone said to me, “Are we looking for quantity, or are we looking for quality?” And, I had to think about that. What [then] happened with the girls that were originally in the program, [is that] … they went back to their comprehensive school and said, “Hey, I was in this program at Parkway Academy, and it’s called, I Am My Sister’s Keeper. “This is what we do.” “This is how we’ve grown.” “And this is what I see.” And, now they’re on the honor roll. They’re staying in school with those types of things, and bringing other girls with them. Their cousins, their friends, “You need to be a part of this”. I see success as how it comes back to what you put out.
Can you tell us about an important business or personal discovery that you’ve made?
I guess a personal discovery, [for] me, would be, “Continue to learn”, that you can learn from anyone. I am so excited about millennials. It’s like “Oh my goodness”. Just the thought pattern and just how guys are just moving and just going. If I was able to go back in time, that’s probably the space I would be in. Because, in my time, you stayed on the job 20 years, you retire, you do this, you get a little fun, do what not. And they’re like, “No! If it’s not working for me, I’m moving”. I’m finding my niche. I’m going to do what I need to do. I’m going to follow my passion. I’m going to go. And it’s like, “Wow”.
“Continue to learn… you can learn from anyone.”
When you’re not working what can you be found doing?
Grandmom duty! We have seven granddaughters and two grandsons that we just absolutely love. I always tell our boys I said “Man, I wish I could be a grandparent first”. I just absolutely love it, because I feel like being a grandparent is your second time around. The first time you’re with your kids but you’re growing yourself, especially in your relationship, those things. So, everything is a growing process. When you become grandparents and you’re not at that stage anymore, then you get to really experience those little things. … [And] that’s, that’s my favorite pastime, other than spending time with my husband, who I just adore and love. It’s just good to be the grandparent. I love that. … And my girlfriends, when I’m able to hang out with them, and you know, just act silly, those types of things.
If you could go back and share some wisdom or guidance with your younger self, what would it be?
To give yourself grace. Don’t be so hard on yourself. … This is a learning process. You don’t have to get it right, every time, but you learn from those mistakes. One of the biggest things that happened in my life, and I am a Christian, I am a believer— the first thing when things happen, I say,
“God, let me learn the lesson in this. Because if something really that’s harsh, I don’t want to repeat that. So I’m mindful of what’s going on in that process that even sometimes it may hurt, it may not feel well, but you still have to be in that process to know where you’re going to get to the other side.
Learn more about Charlotte’s mission at iammsk.org or connect with her on social media:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/MSKRITES/
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/mskrites/
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-miller-lacy-00b06b54/
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/_IAmMSK
If people want to get involved with I Am My Sister’s Keeper, how can they support your organization?
So of course, donations. We’re always looking for donations. And, I say that because our program is free to all of our girls. We charge a $25 application fee and that’s it. So, we’re looking for supporters, we’re looking for grants, … and we need volunteers. Volunteers are the heartbeat of our organization. We have some excellent volunteers who have been with us— some have been with us for the six years that we’ve been in operation. We have a full breakfast for the girls in the morning. So, if anyone wants to donate breakfast items or anything, that’s one of our biggest expenses, because we feed about 60 people, at any given time on a Saturday morning. … So, people can go on our website or they can Cash App us at PurpleMSK. Or, they can go on our website, get our address and send us a check, anything like that. … They can give that way if they want to, or just come and give your time. … Right now we’re at the Teen Warehouse in Wilmington. So, if anybody wants to join us there on the first Saturday and third Saturday from nine o’clock until 1230, that’s the time that we’re there. And then they can reach out to me as well, through our website.
Nominated by Katrina Williams
“Mrs. Lacy our Founder and National Executive Director for I Am My Sister’s Keeper, a nonprofit organization based in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a light to the community and women abroad; always encouraging, supporting and teaching young ladies and women how to maintain their smile and accomplish their goals!”
Why Charlotte Miller-Lacy is On this List
“Charlotte was an absolute delight to talk to. I nearly cried when she shared one of her success stories and I’m so glad to know that someone is out there doing this work to mentor and empower young girls and women.”
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