It’s Quitting Time

I can’t believe today is the last day of 2013! It has been a remarkable year. We have seen some highs and lows of the organization but all to which was to help UCAN to grow. It doesn’t stop here, we have bigger and brighter things to connect to for 2014. As I looked back upon this year, we have accomplished many goals and it could not have happened without you! The highlights included:

*Took 5 students to Nashville to visit the Capitol to learn about the state legislatures
*Held a College Tour with local and out of state colleges for students at Memphis Business Academy and the community. Also offered financial literacy for grants and student loans
*Provided educational and prevention services through Dare 2 Dream program to 20 low income youth during the summer
*Nominated Best in Black in category Best Community Service Organization
*Featured teens in commercial for Stop Bullying Campaign
*Provided back to school supplies to 30 students and 2 received laptops
*Partnered with Humes Prep Academy and served 10 girls using the Dare 2 Dream model
*Partnered with Manassas High School focusing on young girls in the Principle Empowerment Group
*Partnered with Neighborhood Christian Center and Volunteer Memphis to help clean up and make a difference in the community
*Over 20 teens participated in the operation Feed the Homeless with the House of Mtenzi and served over 100 homeless
*Partnered with community stakeholders and provided a family of 3 with gifts, bikes, money and educational items
*President Leshundra Robinson featured on TBN Network
*UCAN received Memphis City Council Resolution

What’s in store for UCAN for 2014? Connecting more with the teens, inpsiring Teen of the Month, Fashion which involves builing self esteem and motivation and more seminars to help teens have a successful future. How can you stay and/or get involve? Go online to and complete your application on how you can help make a difference in the community. While you are there make a donation to help us help them. Until then, in the meantime, if you know a teen who is inspiring and would like to be featured as a Teen of the Month, email us at

Happp New Year!!!


What makes you fashionable?

UCAN’s Ambassador Janika Bates and Shabria Dixon will have the opportunity to have their pictures displayed at the Shadow clothing store in the Wolfchase Mall as the Shadow store front poster.  Photographer Ron Jackson from Jarona Fashion and Photography shot the young ladies as they turned into their alter ego to complete the shoot.  Adama Sow, from Christian Brothers University, also had the chance to sasha into the photoshoot. “I loved them (pictures) and was just grateful to be able to be apart of the shoot and in advertising female clothing for Shadow” said Adama. 

I was once the Director of Panda Models and Talent where Kevin (KY) Young was the owner and instructor and we worked with teens and tweens who had an interest in modeling or whose parents wanted them involved in the school to build their self esteem.  What I observed yesterday was the young ladies had to close their eyes and turn into their alter ego.  It’s true when you look good you feel confident.  When you look “ok” you don’t feel as confident. For Janika, who is 5’10” and built like a model, had low self esteem at one time. She didn’t think she was pretty enough, thought she was fat and didn’t like her skin.  With family, mentoring and volunteering,  she turned it ALL around and was confident with herself the day of the photo shoot.  She said, ” Loved them (pictures)! He’s a very good photographer.”

For tweens and teens who have low self-esteem, fashion is the key.  You make your own fashion and you use that creativity to build upon your self esteem.   Brighten your day with colors and a fashionable scarf. I’ve always taught young ladies the power of pearls. When you wear pearls you feel confident and beautiful like a 1st lady. So parents get those pearls for your tween and teen for Christmas.  


Have a safe and Merry Christmas!




Why start a nonprofit

“I want to start a nonprofit. What do I do?” That’s GREAT! My reply would be why do you want to start a nonprofit versus just volunteering with other nonprofit organizations? Normally their answer is “I heard you can get alot of grant money for it and I want to help in the community.” WRONG ANSWER!!! Having a nonprofit is not just about getting grant money, which there is not guarantee you will receive, it’s about having a purpose and mission. If a grant was not given to you, could you still operate your nonprofit? A nonprofit is a business and some people see it as a hobby. Honestly, that’s how we started. I saw it as something we wanted to do to help in the community. But things started to change, more people started coming to us then I had to realize it was more than a hobby, this was a job! A nonprofit requires a business plan just a for profit business. Yes, it’s a humble response when you say you want to help others but realistically if you don’t have the funding to keep the nonprofit then don’t start. You may ask what type of funding do I need? It’s only a nonprofit. Again WRONG! How will you market your nonprofit? When you have events, how will you pay for it? When someone needs your help, how will you help when there are no donations? Where will you house the nonprofit? How will you pay for your gas to travel to different potential sponsors to even meet them? These are just a SMALL amount of questions I would ask.

Now if you answered all those questions with great answers, next I will say what will make your nonprofit different? There are over 100 nonprofits alone in Memphis. We are all doing something to help make the community better. What will be your niche? Who will be on your board? Many make mistakes by having family and friends on the board. This is a great start but when you start growing you will need others outside your family and friends. How will you get others to buy into what your nonprofit has to offer and what will you be able to offer them to stay on your board. Remember a board member is a non-paying position and so is your position. What will you do now? How will you fund not only the organization but will you be able to pay yourself?

Again if you are thinking about getting a grant, the average grant writer will charge $1200 non-refundable for their service and still that’s not a guarantee that you will receive a grant. You have to take the time to research grants to determine what the best fit for your organization is. Some require you to be in existence at least 2 years to determine what you have accomplished and how much funding you have alone. Some may require that you have at least 1/2 of what you are asking for. Will you have that?

Starting a nonprofit is a blessing if done the correct way. You will need funding BEFORE starting your nonprofit. You don’t want to go broke trying to help others. One of my mentors told me that you have to have a financial foundation at home before you start building another home.

I hope this helps someone. If you have additional questions, please contact me at (901) 262-8642. I would love to talk with you more.

Be blessed!

Single mom inspires others

On Dec 15, TD Jakes Mind, Body and Soul Show had a teenage mom as his guest discussing how hard it was at age 16 to be pregnant. She didn’t have support from the baby daddy, her mother had passed away and she did not know her father. I sat down thinking how this happens to so many young ladies in middle and high school. What can be done about it? Do you constantly beat them across the head saying keep your legs close, continue to teach them abstinences hoping they will listen, show them love and pray for the best..what do you do? Author Summer Owens of SO What! has a very interesting book which discusses so what you are pregnant, you don’t let that stop your future.

I can relate to this. I got pregnant in the 11th grade but had a miscarriage. I then got pregnant again after graduating high school. What could have stopped me from getting pregnant the 1st time? More control at home. I had freedom and was intrigued. My parents worked, found out mom was on drugs, and I was angry! This same situation happened to a young lady who is our recipient for UCAN’s 2013 Adopted Family. Ms. Shunteria Dodson, age 20 with 2 adorable kids (a 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy), was pregnant at age 15. She didn’t know what to do but she did know she refused to drop out of school because of her pregnancy. Her mom was on drugs and she didn’t know her biological father. She was looking for love all in the wrong places. In the 12th grade she became pregnant again. Many teens who have 2 kids while in school just give up and drop out of school. But not Shunteria! She did not and continued her education graduating from Sheffield. She kept her joy and wanted to make sure she made a life for her and her kids. She joined a program named ROSS with a SMA nonprofit organization that helps out other young pregnant girls and to help find them employment. Shunteria told the young ladies that being pregnant is not a’s a job. Your entire life changes but that doesn’t mean you have to stop your future, it means you have extra people along the way to motivate you. She has applied for college entrance into University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee College. Her major is Business Management.

I’m very excited to have Ms. Dodson as our 2013 recipient for UCAN Christmas Gala. She was referred to us by Neighborhood Christian Center and she and her family will be honored at our Christmas Gala December 21 at Wingate by Wyndham Cordova. They will be blessed with gifts and words of wisdom. She has also stated that she will be a volunteer for the organization to help more teens. Inspirational and a blessing!


UCAN to partner with Neighboorhood Christian Center

“‘Tis the season to be jolly” but some parents may not see it that way.  I remember when my parents had me write my letter to Santa to tell him what I wanted. Each year I received what was on the list.  I never thought twice on how those toys appeared under the Christmas tree. I always figured I was just “nice” and not “naughty”.  As I got older my mom told me it was a struggle trying to get what I wanted and sometimes they went without just to make sure I was happy.  This was with a 2 household income so imagine now with 1 household income how difficult it is to provide for your family.

Nowadays single parents are trying hard to survive but just can’t afford to make end meets not to mention buy their children or themself anything for Christmas.  Yes, we know it’s about the birth of Jesus but gifts are still to be given and for a parent not able to give a gift on that day could be heartbreaking to them.  Each year UCAN teams up with an organization to provide a family who has had hard times and can’t give.  The first year we partnered with K97 and provided a Christmas for a single mom with 2 boys.  The following year we adopted a single male who had custody of his 3 nieces and nephews.  Amazingly they only wanted educational items.  The next year we partnered with POE for Kids and built a relationship with a single mom of 2 girls, which one of the girls, Zamiriya, is now one of our great summer volunteers with Dare 2 Dream!  This year we have partnered up again with POE for Kids and Neighborhood Christian Center, both who are single moms with a boy and a girl.

We are excited about the partnerships and their families.  The family from NCC is in need of 2 – twin beds for her 2 children and a bed and comforter set for herself.  If you would like to help bless these families by purchasing items, please contact Leshundra at (901) 262-8642 or make a monetary donation on our secure website at  Help us help them. Our location has changed to host our Christmas Gala. We will now have our Christmas Gala at Wingate by Wyndham Cordova located at 2270 N. Germantown.

Be a blessing…Happy Holidays!