When on August 3rd, I announced, “Our Celebration of Life Together Continues”, in my thank you message to all our thoughtful friends who had acknowledged our anniversary celebration, I had no preconceived notion of what form the celebration would take. I just knew that my husband and I were committed to celebrating our union on an ongoing basis – come hell or high water. Before I go any further, I want to thank everyone who has since extended sentiments and love to us. We thank you, for placing a smile on our faces as your contribution to our ongoing celebration.
When a delivery from 1-800FLOWERS.com was made a few days later, we were alerted to the reality that we might have to make room for other unexpected contributors to this celebration. As if this mystery package was not enough of a spirit booster, it was the elation that ensued when we set eyes upon the contents that stepped up the experience to the level of a rather successful attempt to minister to us.
This was not just a move to send us flowers to help us celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Sarah of Capital One Bank, who according to the accompanying note, I must have connected with recently, had chosen to mark our anniversary with a bouquet of our most favorite flower – purple dendrobium orchid that is symbolic of royalty, admiration, and respect.
As Sarah addressed my banking needs over the phone, it was obvious that she did so with a passion to serve her Capital One clients, and that she had paid attention to my every word and made a decision to reach out to me and my husband in this surprising and exciting way. In case you are wondering, ‘No,’ I did not discuss my love for orchids with her….and ‘Yes’, my husband and I happen to be a couple that does NOT believe in coincidences!
As we extend our gratitude to Sarah (of Capital One Bank), We want to acknowledge the spirit of humanity that Capital One Bank promotes in its workplace. For our suspicion is that in the absence of a culture that significantly touches the lives of their clients, Sarah might have experienced a roadblock when she planned to embrace us in such a sweet way.
As a couple who strives to awaken the spirit of humanity in all areas of our life, we fully appreciate this and say a big Thank You to Sarah and Capital One Bank for touching our lives in this special way.
As can be seen from the pictures below, this special connection which gave us the opportunity to quickly get into gear for an impromptu photo shoot – with selfies and all – was properly savored. A moment we know was initiated by love, compassion and appreciation for humankind that will surely outlast the flowers even as they receive the tender and loving care that they deserve from a place of prominence in our showroom!
I would like to share a press release and related pictures of an artistic expression which was designed and assembled in collaboration with students of Bellport High School through My Time Has Come Program.
The Coat of Many Cultures™ is a personal development artistic statement that is designed to reflect multicultural pride, self-esteem, respect and appreciation for self and others, and also to, celebrate the common thread that runs through the fabric of mankind – as experienced by all participants.
It is my hope that you will find a way to use the narrative that the Bellport High School Students I worked with have expressed through this Coat of Many Cultures™ to stimulate dialogue around cultural pride/identity and the visual arts through your network.
My Time Has Come Program offers youth and adults The Coat of Many Cultures™ Workshop as one way art and culture can be used as a confidence-building tool that fosters and celebrates multiculturalism, heightens awareness of diversity and promotes inclusion.
While this work of art is scheduled for permanent installation at the Bellport High School in the month of July, 2018, you are welcome to view and or photograph it at my showroom in North Bellmore. I may be reached through e-mail or my cell if you have any questions about the Coat of Many Cultures™ or My Time Has Come Program.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Madona Cole-Lacy My Time Has Come 516) 965-3242 email@example.com Long Island Teaching Artist and Students Connect the Dots of Multiculturalism and Inclusion with a Coat of Many Cultures™ (Bellmore, New York, March 28, 2018) Madona Cole-Lacy, Long Island Teaching Artist and Creative Director of My Time Has Come Program has collaborated with students of Bellport High School to create a Coat of Many Cultures™ that embraces and celebrates cultural heritage through art. The Bellport Coat of Many Cultures™ – a work of art funded by The South Country Education Foundation – will be on permanent display at the Bellport High School following installation in July 2018.
The giant Coat of Many Cultures™ depicts creative ways students have incorporated various aspects of their cultural identities in a series of theme-based textile designing and print-making workshops at the school. With a focus on heightening the students’ sense of pride, belonging and accomplishment, Mrs. Madona Cole-Lacy, motivated students to connect with their roots to create panels of original art inspired by their cultural heritage and countries of origin. These panels and elements of the artist’s own cultural heritage and her original textile art have formed the foundation of the work of art for students from Mrs. Barbara Gallagher’s art class and Mrs. Monica Tetuan’s ESL class in the residency.
The Coat of Many Cultures™ which is currently at the Artist’s showroom in Bellmore, New York, is scheduled for permanent installation at the Bellport High School in July 2018. “What is so exciting about designing a Coat of Many Cultures™ is my encounter with participants who have never given thought to the role art and culture play in their lives. To see them delve into the task at hand once they ‘get it’ is simply priceless! Another element of excitement for me is brought on by the anticipation of what each coat will look like. The enthusiasm and resulting work of my workshop participants determine the nature of the end product. It is an ongoing visual, emotional and cultural response to what they offer me that makes the creative expression authentic and satisfying.” -Madona Cole-Lacy-
Bellport High School Contact: Mrs. Barbara Gallagher BGallagher9@southcountry.org
About Madona Cole-Lacy Mrs. Cole-Lacy is a Teaching Artist registered with Eastern Suffolk and Nassau BOCES. She was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to parents who were instrumental in giving her a broad educational experience by making it possible for her to study art and design in both England and the United States. Madona Cole-Lacy takes full advantage of her multi-cultural and professional teaching experiences and skills gained from working with youth and adults in schools, colleges and communities to passionately motivate, educate and inspire her workshop participants as she acquaints them with a variety of art-making techniques.
Through My Time Has Come Program Madona Cole-Lacy uses “art, culture and education as a vehicle with which society can develop and maintain self-esteem, as well as, cultivate racial/ethnic and generational tolerance.”
“Our goal is to foster a sense of belonging, accomplishments and pride for all participants.” – Madona Cole-Lacy- My Time Has Come is the second “dot” of creativity in Madona Cole-Lacy’s quest to take ART and CREATIVITY beyond the confines of the studio to impact life in a number of positive ways through her concept “I Connect the Dots of Creativity”. Please visit: http://www.iconnectthedotsofcreativity.org for more on this philosophy.
As one who has been known to say “Thank You, but not now”, I feel obligated to express my innermost thoughts on the reason why it was so easy to say “yes, we accept” when nominated for the Valens Award by Excellence-in-Success. My initial response was that it will be “a necessary boost to the Spirit!” which we needed in order to take a break from our “new normal” of almost daily doctor’s appointments and seemingly endless paperwork. That, though, would have been too empty and self-serving; so it quickly turned into a mission to advocate for love, camaraderie, and hope for all, including an important component….to give others a reason to show up and be relevant even in the midst of challenges that often force them into hibernation from the public. We believe we serve humanity no purpose when we as a people create this type of scenario that causes those experiencing setbacks in their life to protect themselves from the sometimes unempathetic dissociation that comes about in times like these. Who can blame anyone for protecting themselves from man-made additional stress while they have bigger fish to fry?
The Valens Award presented to me and my husband as a couple who “demonstrate unconditional commitment to each other” is one that we fully and wholeheartedly accepted last Saturday at the Brentwood Country Club; knowing that this gesture would be an opportunity to further our resolve to live a purposeful life to the best of our abilities, and to inspire others to keep this flame burning. We thank Mr. & Mrs. Leslie Lambert for this opportunity.
Our guests whom we regard as our extended family members joined our immediate family members to show their spirit of commitment and support to us at a moment’s notice.
We acknowledge the loving support of Rev. Dr. & Mrs. Edward Corley who were represented by their son and daughter-in-law. Our gratitude goes out in large measure to the following people who were in attendance: Miss Madona Branch, Mr. Hugh Lacy, Dr. Roxane Lacy, Ms. Zellin Lowe, Ms. Letoria Haughton, Mr. & Mrs. James Daniels, Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Taylor, Mr. & Mrs Edward D. Corley, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde James, Dr. & Mrs. Leroy Monroe and Ms. Florence Whitfield.
Along with the excitement of being the recipients of the Valens Award, we at the same time, wondered why we should be honored for doing what we were mandated to do when we took our vows in 2004…to love, honor and fully embrace each other in “good times and in bad”. Once we arrived on the scene, we were able to experience the benefits of being in a room full of like-minded couples who had inspirational stories – each with their own unique twists to their experiences.
We were delighted to be in the same league of a fine group of couples whose devotion to one another indeed deserved the radiant spotlight of the Excellence-in-Success Valens Award.
Some fellow honorees and their guests even took time out to minister to us. How wonderful that was! We thank them for allowing the spirit of love to move them in this way. We are honored to have participated in such an inspiration-filled evening— with stories from all angles of life experiences as proud couples shared their own unique stories about their relationships at the podium, and through their turning point statements read by Alicia Figueras-Lambert as she introduced them.
Below is the turning point statement of our relationship.
How We Do It
James and Madona demonstrate resilience in their relationship through their capacity for weathering adversity and maintaining normalcy in their navigation of James’ serious health challenge over the past three years –demonstrating the true essence of partnership “in sickness and in health”. The couple regards this turning point in their collective lives, as one for strengthening an already tight bond of love, devotion, mutual support, respect and partnership in all arenas of their life; driven by the sentiments reflected in a Valentines tribute composed in February 2016 and recorded by James in 2017 entitled “Be My Valentine” by James Lacy (https://youtu.be/EdG-GFvYAYo)
When Adversity Strikes…Pay the Lessons of Your Experiences Forward with Love!
It is our hope that people will begin to see they are not irrelevant and useless when the sideshows of life strike. On that score, we will now share in love a few tips of what has worked for us as a couple navigating such sideshows. Please click on link for PDF copy.
It was a few weeks ago on October 14th that I was afforded the privilege of marking one more year with my husband and soulmate, James A. Lacy. The celebration and acknowledgement of his birthday took on a new form for me this year!
It was not about how early in the day I could get a social media posting going to alert friends about his birthday. No, that was not on the agenda this year. Besides, I know of at least one portal that generates birthday alerts that gives well-wishers the opportunity to acknowledge birthdays. Some did make good use of that to express birthday sentiments, and I thank them for that. Others celebrated him by sending him text messages, making phone calls, and in the old-fashioned way- – -by being physically present and taking charge of what turned out to be a rather meaningful and unique surprise informal gathering which underscored a variety of themes aimed at celebrating and sincerely acknowledging his sweet spirit from a close vantage point.
It is not surprising that the celebration did not end on the day of his birthday as more extended family members have since stopped by to show him some love!
My heartfelt gratitude goes to all who contributed to making Birthday 2017 ever so exciting for him.
As I mark my own birthday in the hospital waiting room today, with much anticipation of the answers to questions that have cropped up of late, I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than to write this open letter for all to understand what my husband means to me. I hope by doing this, more people would open up and subscribe to a culture that accommodates the celebration of humankind in a grand way – as the default modus operandi – be it in celebration of the spouse, the offspring, the neighbor, the boss or Joe Blow! Here goes!
Love, respect and reciprocity engender credit for the role our partners play in empowering us. I inviteyou to share your story.
My dearest Darling Jim:
In addition to being grateful for “One More Year”, my position with regards to celebrating you is one which takes the form of daily in-the-moment meaningful interactions that bear as much significance as the birthday milestone itself. Giving credit where credit is due, I thank God for using Rev. Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Lacy to manifest his handiwork in the form of the kind, gentle, courageous and selfless human being that I know you to be. As I celebrate you, I thank God for blessing me with a partner of such courage, resilience, stamina, caliber, and integrity, …and for heeding to my prayer that if there was ever to be a second time around, it was going to have to be with a man (an earthly Angel) who possessed the qualities you possess, my darling.
Even though you have- – – along with me- – -subscribed to a real life demonstration of what happens when we ask for what we want—knowing that once we play our own part, our wishes do stand the chance of coming true—I cannot in good conscience embrace this “ask-do-believe concept”, without doing the same for our resolve to navigate to the best of our abilities, the unwelcome guests that come in the form of serious health challenges we are currently navigating. Your propensity for grace to precede all – – -while under fire- – -is second to none! You have effectively subscribed to a new definition of what it means to gracefully navigate life-altering challenges. I thank you for making it so much easier for me to keep my composure and focus on the important lessons of our journey. I am proud to say that you and I are card-carrying members of a breed that embraces emotional and spiritual growth in the midst of life’s calamities and its resulting side shows as its status quo. How wonderful!
Come Hell or High Water!
You know what is so special about our partnership? It is the unwavering awareness of our role on this earth – our unshakable raison d’être that brings and maintains meaning to our collective lives. Thank you for being the perfect “accomplice” to a mindset which effortlessly dictates that even as we go through our own trials and tribulations, if we could “help somebody along the way”, our “living shall not be in vain”!
You are truly a Class Act…and a Half!
I will continue to smile for you, knowing that you are right for me, and I am right for you, my darling…in sickness and in health! You are the best birthday gift I can wish for today! I suspect Mama, Samuel and Madona understand why they have to play second fiddle at this time. 🙂
Three years ago, my father passed away as I held his hand and told him how much it meant to me to have had a father like him. It seems like yesterday as my husband Jim, and his exceptionally compassionate physician, Dr. Hawthorne, who to date, proudly speaks of the reciprocal role Papa played as a mentor to him, rendered their support.
I feel compelled to mark this day with the brief letter below to the man of few but effective and wise words that I call “Papa”:
Three years ago, you took your last breath as I held your hand and seized the moment to send you off with a tear-filled tribute only deserving of the likes of you. Your legacy will forever live on if I have anything to do with it. I thank you for showing by example that it is indeed possible for one to successfully interact with people of differing points of view and orientations to achieve a common goal that speaks to the preservation of humanity.
Thank you, “Mr. Activity Cole”, for giving me something to think about with regards to your resolve to uphold the true spirit of Fourah Bay College’s motto: Non Sibi Sed Allis (“Not for themselves, but for others”)— through your service to others. You know it is not easy, but if you did it, so can I.
It is a wonderful thing to daily recall moments of your caring and engaging fatherly spirit. I thank God for the gift of a father such as you.
The following is an account I wrote and presented in print to the Executive Director at the Uniondale Early Childhood Center’s first annual awards gala. As UECC prepares for its 25th anniversary dinner, I find the contents appropriate enough to share today, in this format, as an introduction to what this Early Childhood Center stands for. Needless to say, that you are invited to participate in this celebration with us. Please find the invitation and journal ad opportunity below this post.
– Madona Cole-Lacy –
I Just Can’t Keep it to Myself: The Components of a Successful Pre-K Graduation Ceremony
The Uniondale Early Childhood Center conducted their graduation and moving up ceremony today. What a joy it was to see the bright, well-groomed, and talented graduates march in on cue! It was also obvious to me that this group of children had been taught so that it would not be necessary to teach them the basics when they reach adulthood.
These children had been prepared for a lot more than reading and writing. They were way up there in the social graces department. Dr. Mary Cameron and her staff had prepared these leaders of tomorrow, in a manner that is driven by a passion that is second to none. Kudos to them for a job indeed well done! Now what was it about this ceremony that grabbed my attention? Aside from the impressive comportment of the children, the hearty rendition of the song “I believe I can fly”, there were elements present that made the occasion truly meaningful. The guest speaker, Monique Euell, an aspiring Elementary Education teacher, who will be starting her 3rd year at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, was most impressive in her delivery which comprised of a specially crafted message for each group present. As she addressed the graduates, I was excited to learn that she had actually spent time with them as a group at the center and that she was able to characterize each one of them by name. That was meaningful and what’s more? The children listened attentively! Another display of leadership was characterized by the poise, stamina and confidence of the Guest Soloist, Christina Phillips. Christina, a young lady on visit from St. Vincent. It was wonderful to see Christina so comfortable in her skin even though she was in ‘strange’ surroundings. Sydni Baker, a 9th grade student at Half Hollow High School was featured as the UECC representative on the New York Child Care coalition. Sydni visited Albany to lobby for improvements in child care and included an essay of her experience in the graduation program. Yet another leader to be reckoned with! Of note was the fact that Eric Musonza a past graduate of the Uniondale Child Care Center, received a full scholarship to Yale University.
The involvement of local public officials was also a good thing. The certificates of recognition served as a testimony that the executive director thought of her students and their accomplishments as newsworthy and important enough to invite these officials who have shown interest in the center over the years.
There were of course, many other activities that made the ceremony a grand one.
In summary, I would say that the components of this successful pre-school graduation ceremony, are as follows:
1. The involvement of young people in the program.
2. A guest speaker who knew the graduates well, due to interactions with them in the past.
3. The involvement of local public officials.
4. The overall empowerment of young people who already see themselves as leaders and role models to the graduates.
5. The dedication and passion for teaching and learning as demonstrated by the Executive Director and staff.
It is only fitting that I share my take-away from a wearable art silk scarf-designing workshop I recently facilitated at the East Meadow Public Library through my social and cultural enrichment program, My Time Has Come . The sources of inspiration for this workshop were many, with Valentine’s day and Passover on most minds, and not to speak of themes that some participants had already given thought to before they arrived!
I want to start by ‘commiserating’ with fellow artists around the world who prepare for, and facilitate workshops with the mindset that they have a ‘task’ that they must accomplish… otherwise known as a Job. This was not a job for me. It was yet another “this is why I do what I do” opportunity for me. Thanks, to the participants. For what is of utmost importance and most gratifying to me, as a facilitating artist, is the enthusiasm and willingness of participants of all age groups to try new things, the camaraderie shared by ‘strangers’ in some cases, and last but not least, the desire for excellence in creativity that results in exceptionally crafted pieces they can take home with them. This was present in great measure!
I must say, I really expected nothing less from participants who did not use the pouring rain as an excuse to stay away. Suffice it say that it was that same spirit of determination that filled the room. Determination to try something new, to make the most of it and, as far as I am concerned, succeed at it. You, the reader of this post, can register your opinion on the accompanying visuals.
As my heartfelt gratitude goes out to this outstanding group, I must share that for the first time as a workshop facilitator, I was asked on more than one occasion to stop for a moment to hydrate as a result of what must have struck someone as me “on overdrive”, as I passionately executed my task. I thought that was so sweet and nurturing! (I had no idea I was perspiring at all…as the pictures would reveal later!) I also want to thank those who privately shared with me their observations about what they observed as my commitment to what I do. I intend to use those kind sentiments to further motivate myself as I strive for excellence in all I do. Those, who could, stayed behind to help with the inevitable post-workshop clean-up and pack up. How wonderful that was! Thank You, to Charlie who helped us settle in, Jude Schanzer, the Director of Public Relations and Programming, and last but not least, my husband, James Lacy, for his role as the photographer and another set of helping hands.