New York Based Movement, ProjectEX, Assists Ex-Felons in Transitioning Back into SocietyApril 24, 2018
Returning back to society after prison is already hard enough on ex-felons in addition to trying to find a...
As women, especially as Black women, we have so much pressed against us, which is why we cannot sit around and continue to bring each other down. We must uplift and empower our fellow sister when we see her down on her luck. This is what Idaliah Blopleh’s non-profit, Dignify A Diva is about. The organization was started as a give back to the community.
I was raised to love on as many people as I possibly could,” Biopleh explains. “With my mom and dad, you would get a whipping if you were not helping somebody, so it is a part of my DNA.”
Dignify a Diva gives back gently loved purses and toiletries to women and girls in need. That need could be any sort of trauma that they may have endured. So, whether it is homelessness or domestic violence or that the person themselves is dealing with an illness or someone in her family…death, all of those are types of traumas and we all process trauma differently.
“So, say you are going through something, maybe you just lost your job and you are worrying about how you are going to pay your bills, you are trying to figure out life in general, all the things that you need on a regular basis you do not have access to now. Those things are expensive,” Idaliah states.
As a result, she went to the store and priced out deodorant, sanitary items…you know all the stuff that we put in our purse. Let’s say that you have an overnight bag; shampoo, conditioner, you spend $40 or $50 on little items while you are also thinking about how you are going to put gas in your car… if that is how you are getting to a job, couch hopping because that is what homeless means, you literally do not have a physical address. You are trying to figure out how to pay for an extended stay, will I be able to give the person that I am staying with a small financial token in order to thank them for allowing me to stay, while still trying to figure out how you can get your necessities.
“That is where the decline in dignity starts to happen. How do I figure this out…OMG, is there someone that I can talk to about this? What am I supposed to do, what organizations can help out? Do I even qualify and is it going to look bad if I have a car, but I still need help? So, we go through the judgment, we getfreaked out, and we are trying to figure out all these things and then we stop talking all together. We start hurting ourselves and we start to see all of that come out of our system, the decline in dignity is insane when you are trying to figure out how to just live life.
So, that is where Dignify A Diva came from because we should all feel like a diva. When you are going through all these things it does not feel good. We also consider a woman’s privacy as she is given these items as some of them are personal and she may feel a type of way about everyone being able to see what she has. So what if we can give her those items in a cool purse? This way, we kill 2 birds with one stone, she get the things that she needs, and we begin to give her back her dignity. Let me point out that this is not just happening to women, but it is also happening to young girls as well, so all of this is a love effort to make them feel a little bit of dignity.
The Empress Dee: That is so beautiful! Thank you so much for your service because I know so many women who would appreciate that and it is needed in the Black community for sure.
Idaliah: We spend a lot of time (unfortunately) not building each other up in the way that we need, we tear each other down as women. How much better would it be if we could take a moment, take ourselves out of that situation, get rid of the judgment and say sis, I got you? It is simple but for a lot of us it seems like it is this big thing for us to do this. It does not take anything away from you to tell your sister, I got you. (Idaliah then shows one of the bags that has been donated and the items that the women receive). Dignify A Diva also provides advocacy and services. I am really big on “secure the bag,” so this is how we secure the bag.
The Empress Dee: How can women in need get in touch with you?
Idaliah: So, there are a couple of ways. If you have access to the internet, then I ask everyone to go to the website: www.dignifyadiva.org if you are unable to get to the internet and you need to reach out to me, you can reach me on Instagram as well as Facebook…send me a message. Please know that there is absolutely no judgment here. It is always ok to reach out and say that I need a little help. You will notice if you are able to go to the website that there are resources that are listed there too, so if there is anything that I cannot do there are resources that are there for you. In addition to the purses and toiletries, there are fundraising events as well as advocacy events that I do (she hosted a virtual high tea that usually takes place in person in March for Women’s history month), all the ladies get dressed up they have their hats, some wear crowns, some people come with head wraps…this has been an event for the last 4 years. One sistah came in a hijab with a peacock feather, she was gorgeous! We get together and we enjoy each other’s company; sistah circle in nature. There is entertainment and there are gentlemen in attendance, but it is only in a serving capacity, so you are escorted to your seat by a gentleman wearing white gloves and a suit. You are served dinner and we are entertained by music and poets; we have an amazing time. We give out awards for best dressed, best hat…best shoes. This year with the pandemic we were not able to do it in person, but I said, “one monkey don’t stop no show” and the monkey is Covid-19, we are not doing that and so we made it a virtual event.
The Empress Dee: When you first started Dignify A Diva, did you instantly see support from other women?
Idaliah: I did. You know what is interesting, I am finding that low-key women want to support and they do not always want to talk about it, they do not always want accolades, some do and that is fine too but a lot of women want to know that, their monetary donations are going where you say that they are going. So, I post about things incessantly; then they are like wow, I did not know that you were doing something like that and now there is something that I can be involved in and feel good about. How many women have just one purse? We have at least 3 purses. So it gives others a change to get involve, to support. The amount of support sometimes has been a little surprising and they continue to. There is almost not a month that goes by where someone does not say, hey I have got purses, or I have toiletries, or I went on vacation and I got all the samples (travel sizes) from the hotel that I would like to donate. That happens a lot and you would be surprised at the ingenious ways that people find to support.
The Empress Dee: With the things that you do, I am sure that you have a lot of connections, how did you find these connections?
Idaliah: Social media if I am being honest. I like to talk if you have not noticed (laughs), so you get a chance to meet people, you find a lot of likeminded individuals and then people with amazing hearts and spirits that want to be involved. A lot of the connections to tell you the truth, I would not be able to do this without the connections. A lot of the organizations that I have been able to partner with is because they have something going on and they will say, hey…Idaliah can you bring this or the fact that I will be supporting an organization that has something completely different going on. The contacts that I am building are doing different things, but we have similar mind and heart sets which makes it fun. So, you are thinking that I know that people are sick of hearing me say this, but I love talking about it, as you make more connections, there are more people talking about the philanthropic love, then it does not feel so bad talking about it all the time because we are all doing the same thing or least trying to.
The Empress Dee: I love what you are doing because so many people feel like when you are giving something away and you are not getting something back (material) in return or there is no money involved, they feel as though they are missing the profit or benefit of what it is that they are doing. So how often do you see blessings or prosperity come to you for having a giving heart?
Idaliah: I see it every day and in different ways. So, selfishly for me this is amazing because I get to see women and girls faces light up every time that I do something. That for me as corny as it may sound really is a blessing to me every single day. I would hope and pray that if I landed in a situation similar to what these women have been through and let me tell you that some of the stories would break your heart, and they keep on making it happen every day, despite what they are going through…what I am doing is not even an ounce of what they are able to accomplish. Just being able to bring them some peace is a blessing to me. On a larger scale, I just had a blessing come through yesterday. I still have to work a 9 to 5 and they said we would like to bless you because we see what you are doing and I did not even know that they noticed, so a blessing came from that…there is a blessing every day.
The Empress Dee: I am so glad that you are being blessed because I can see that you have a beautiful heart. So, what you would you say has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
Idaliah: I do not think that I am there yet. If I am being honest, I think that it is yet to come. I have had some cool accomplishments; I am definitely way ahead of where I was 2 years ago. I am bumbling through this because I was not sure how I was going to make it work. So, each day, I am learning something new…on how to make this work or how to reach as many people as possible…as many women and girls as possible. As I mentioned earlier this is the fourth year with the high tea that was really cool. Watching my children be proud of their mom at ages 22 and 20 because you know that kids stop being proud of their parents when they get older (laughter) so that is an accomplishment. But I do not think that I have made my greatest accomplishment yet. I have a lot of work to do. Ask me that in about 2 years and I might have a better answer for you.
The Empress Dee: We will definitely touch base. Since you are talking about the growth that you need to do with Dignify A Diva, what is your ultimate vision?
Idaliah: I would like to see a couple of things happen; I would like to have a space where women can come to and say okay, this is what I need. I want them to be able to have a shopping and/or sleeping experience in a home that I would be able to run. So, what does that mean for someone? You are a victim of domestic violence and/or abuse and you are able to get away, you are then placed in a beautiful room, almost like a Airbnb situation, you would be provided with your “secure the bag” you would get all of the toiletry items that you need and then we would start to bring in services so that you would be able to start the healing process. So. There would be some kind of a counselor that would come in…if you have a job there will be someone that would see to it that you get to work safely. Then we can look at making permanent living arrangements for you somewhere else…what does that look like or you may need to stay in my Airbnb for a while. We start to help each woman re-build her life as it pertains to domestic abuse.
For someone who is dealing with illness or mental illness such as, depression, and they just need a getaway, for those women, they would be coming to the same place, but perhaps it is for a weekend stay; which allows you to get an intensive repair. So you get to breathe, and you do not have to do anything but to just be you. You have a full weekend or maybe a week…whatever that looks like, of support and pampering and love so much so that you feel well taken care of and cared for that by the time that you leave, not only are you feeling refreshed but you have been given the tools that you need in order to get through the rest of that trauma and then if you need to come back, then you come back. It would be a home because I do not want it to be a house, I want it to be a home where you feel loved and safe. That way, you can start to re-build your life in a way that is productive for you.
The Empress Dee: The whole time that you were talking, I had chills the whole time. That is beautiful and I know that you will reach that goal. Wow, I am the interviewer and I am speechless! As Black people we are going through a lot right now, what words of wisdom can you offer during this time of civil unrest in the Black community?
Idaliah: Find a safe place and someone safe to talk to. Because even for myself I have been finding myself so consumed by what has been happening and it is not like we did not know that it was happening but when it is being smacked in your face and you are watching video after video after video…every time you turn on the tv, social media because now we are “trending” and we are seeing oh we are going to give this amount of money to this or this amount of money to that, like we were not here the whole time…you are dealing with the trauma of being afraid for yourself to walk out into the street, my children or myself to walk out in the street…I would encourage everyone to find a safe space and a safe person to talk to and get that out. Because allowing it to fester makes for some trauma filled situations. If you have survived something where what you are seeing is a trigger for you, please talk to someone right away.
In addition to that I would say, know that you are loved and that there are a lot more of us out here that love you than these other folks could ever imagine. All it takes is for you to say that I need a little bit of help. You will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to get someone on the phone or they will be on the way to try and help you out. Dignify A Diva is a bridge to be honest. Here is the person with the trauma and here is the person who has walked through and has figured it out waiting to help…all you have to do is walk across that bridge. It is not a new idea and I have seen it done a number of different ways; this was just my spin on it. I have learned so much from other organizations that spearheaded this operation. It is important for us as communities of color to support non-profit organizations.
With the protesting that is going on right now, we are well within our rights, it is way past time for this to be happening. What I would ask is, what is our plan B? Because the powers that be who are already showing frustration are going to start pulling their support and so what is our next step? Are we mobilized enough to support each other? Have we been supporting our local non-profits so that even when the support is not coming from here, we will still have it from over there…we have to think 5 steps ahead to make sure that we are covered and that is why these initiatives are important.
The Empress Dee: Thank you so much Miss Idaliah, I loved speaking with you. You are so amazing!
Lior Nechama Israel Judah 🦁 |Educator 📚 |D.O.S 💕
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