Friday, June 22 , 2018, 2:52 am | Overcast 60º


African-American Women of Santa Barbara County Celebrate Bonds of Sisterhood

Heath-care reform among the topics of discussion as guests enjoy an afternoon of 'Coming Together and Being Together'

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

There was a strong feeling of togetherness at the second annual African American Women of Santa Barbara County luncheon, “Coming Together and Being Together,” held at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, where more than 70 women celebrated the bonds of sisterhood.

“The theme this year is about connecting and reconnecting as sisters in our community,” event co-chair Wendy Sims-Moten said. “This is the second annual, and I continue to be motivated because I continue to see women who say we need to be together because sometimes we find ourselves the only ones on our jobs and in different places and we don’t have anyone to share that experience with so that’s really, really important.”

The stylish guests were dressed in a blend of business attire and Sunday dress, and eagerly arrived at the hotel for a celebratory event that commenced with lively welcome remarks from Sims-Moten and a spirited invocation by Margaret Young that was followed by an introductory candlelight ceremony performed by Toni Busby.

Busby held a lighted long-stemmed candle in her right hand as she walked around the room lighting the centerpiece candle on each table, and at each table asked the guests to stand and introduce themselves to the energized crowd.

Vivian Scarborough, who attended the luncheon with her daughter and caregiver and was celebrating her 107th birthday, beamed as she looked around the room with her seasoned sparkling brown eyes proclaiming, “I am so happy to be here.”

After a round of salutations, Sims-Moten asked the crowd of onlookers to raise their glasses for a celebratory toast that was followed by some key topics.

Black women’s physical health and health-care reform was a topic of discussion during the luncheon and keynote speakers Caroline Felton and Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, president of the Santa Maria-Lompoc Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), shared vital information pertaining to the Affordable Care Act.

As of 2010, the health reform law requires insurers to cover preventive services for women at no cost to consumers, and services provided under the ACA include free diabetes and cancer screening, flu shots and vaccinations.

Lyons-Pruitt added that the new health-care benefits for women went into effect in August 2012, and that under the ACA women with private insurance are now eligible to receive no-cost well-woman visits, contraceptive services, domestic violence screening, counseling and more.

Additionally, in 2014, the ACA is launching the Health Benefit Exchange, a nationwide database designed to assist individuals, low-income families and small businesses and their employees choose health-care plans from providers that offer high-quality and affordable health care.

The ACA ensures that women and their families receive affordable health insurance and preventive services and benefits and, “no one should be deprived of proper healthcare, regardless of the circumstance,” Lyons-Pruitt said.

Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle, playwright, community activist and poet, shared a poem from her first full-length collection of poems, Black Street, published by the Center for Black Studies Research in 2009.

“One of the two poems I decided to read today is called ‘Where the Children Gather,’” Kincaid-Rolle said. “I choose that particular poem because it’s really about the experiences of black women that we all share and about growing up.”

Kincaid-Rolle also read “Sisters” from her book A Hand Reached Out: Selected Poems (Tranquility Press, 1993).

“‘Sisters’ is based on the ideal that we are family, and we share so much together and depend on our sisters for so much and I felt that would be a nice touch,” Kincaid-Rolle told Noozhawk.

A round of hearty applause greeted guest speaker Jewel Diamond Taylor, known as “the self-esteem doctor,” who is a minister, motivational speaker, life coach and founder of Women on the Grow and the Never Give Up Foundation.

Taylor’s dynamic and spiritual speech about the importance of faith and personal growth, overcoming stress and believing in yourself echoed the life-changing strategies, goals and sentiments that are referenced in many of her inspirational books, including Sisterfriends and You Are Too Blessed to Be Stressed.

“It’s so easy to get lost and it’s so easy to just become just kind of colorless in your soul until you are revived again,” Taylor said. “So I think it’s important that we revive ourselves not only spiritually but emotionally and culturally.”

A playful card game that was geared to inspire the women in the room to live healthier lives by staying active on a daily basis topped off the afternoon, leading to a line of women dancing and singing.

Sims-Moten shared some words from 105-year-old Sarah Caldwell of Lompoc, who could not attend due to health reasons, which captured the tone and mood of togetherness shared by everyone during the afternoon event.

“One of the main insights she wanted me to share with everyone here is learn to take care of yourself and be independent,” Sims-Moten said.

For more information about the African American Women of Santa Barbara County, call Sims-Moten at 805.453.3452 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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