‘Her Voice, Her Story’ motivates at Housing Authority luncheon

Joseph D. Bryant
Housing Authority of the Birmingham District
Several small business vendors participated in the “Her Story, Her Voice” event May 2 at Cooper Green Homes including I Am Irby Beauty Boutique. (Provided Photo)

With music, art, poetry, spoken word and dance nearly 100 women from around Birmingham gathered for a recent afternoon of celebration and encouragement during the first “Her Voice, Her Story,” luncheon.

The event on May 2 was presented by the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) to illustrate and celebrate the triumphs of women over various circumstances. The event was the first in a series of events from HABD this summer to promote women, men and families. The Cooper Green Homes Community Center was transformed into a fine event center showcasing colorful arrangements, decorations and refreshments. HABD employees coordinated the event.

“We wanted this to be a special day, a memorable day for all involved,” said Adrian Peterson-Fields, HABD Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer. “This was truly a day to celebrate and encourage women. This is a day for women to share their experiences as well as a time to provide valuable insight into how lessons learned have transformed both their lives and the lives of their families.”

Fields also shared her personal story of overcoming challenges to achieve success. Fields’ message resonated with several in the room, generating applause and responses as she talked about being raised by her elderly grandmother in Birmingham’s Gate City neighborhood. She was the first to stand before the crowd.

“Yet and still I am here, and I am COO of the housing authority,” she said, fighting back emotion. “We’re giving you an opportunity to showcase things that can heal you and heal your sisters.”

Housing Authority employees (from left) Joyce Turner, Joyce Owens and Iesha Byers were among the group of hosts for the first “Her Story, Her Voice” women’s event. Turner’s personal story of success over adversity moved some to tears. (Joseph D. Bryant/HABD)

Joyce Turner, the community center coordinator at the Loveman Village, galvanized the room as she performed her monologue, “Tick-Tock.”

The prose was about time and a woman, her wasting time on the wrong things – and the wrong people.

Mary Hawkins (right) and Stephanie Shepherd, both of Kimbrough Homes, participate in the “Her Story, Her Voice” women’s event helped at Cooper Green Homes. Hawkins is also president of the Kimbrough Homes Neighborhood Association. (Provided Photo)

“It just hit me and I wrote it,” Turner said later. “I was remembering some things that I had gone through a while back in my life, and I wrote it and put it in my journal. To me, it was more personal. That’s why you didn’t see a whole lot of acting.”

The event was also momentous for Turner. A longtime writer and producer, this was the first time that she had publicly recited any of her own work.

A woman later came to her in tears, thanking her for the presentation, Turner said.

“That’s what it is was for,” Turner said. “I felt like I was touching somebody’s life, and that’s why I did it.”

The HABD activities are part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Strong Families Initiative. The initiative is an extension of the HUD Father’s Day Initiative and runs through June 30.

HUD is encouraging housing authorities throughout the nation to hold a series of activities that are designed to celebrate and promote the benefits of paternal involvement in children’s lives.

Community events will also serve to provide education and resources that promote positive family structures and self-sufficiency among families assisted by HABD.

Other upcoming activities from HABD include a day of flag football for men and their children.