Monday, November 21, 2011

The List That Keeps on Giving~ A Personal Interview with BOND Inc President

We had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the Founder and President of a thriving organization entitled Bringing On New Direction Inc. based in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan area. BOND Inc as it is affectionately known as is an organization that is catered to women of color with a mission to uplift, motivate and empower women to reach their highest potential.  Ms. Fowlkes shared with us the huge endeavor her organization has in the works and what to expect from BOND in 2012. 

Lately she’s made her list and is checking it twice but not for the reason you’re probably thinking. In fact she's adding more to it. Somehow that list keeps growing by the day. Well actually it’s a laundry list of things she and several of her BOND Sisters must tackle in preparation of their biggest event in BOND’s history. BOND will be hosting “Poetry & Presents” on December 16th in Columbia MD, a fundraising event to assist a number of needy families during this upcoming holiday season.
Who is BOND Inc Anyway?
I started BOND back in 2004 after graduating from Morgan State University. However God gave me the vision while I was in middle school to start a group for women. At the time I thought I was way too young to start a group. Who thinks of starting a group for women at the age of 13? Not only did I think I was way too young but I had no idea what direction I was to go in. Mind you, I didn’t know the first thing about starting an organization, how to get membership, or even where to begin. I didn’t have a clue about anything remotely close to starting anybody’s organization. The only thing I did know was that it was something that God was prompting me to do.  As time passed, God would wake me up out of my sleep to jot down notes like our name, the mission, vision and goals of the organization. It’s interesting now to think how God never gives us a full picture of where he’s leading us but gives us bits and pieces, almost like a puzzle. I guess he’s trying to see how far we’re willing to go and if we’ll be able to trust him through the journey. I do know that God always equips you for whatever journey he leads you on.
The Defining Moment
Fast forward several years to my college graduation day where our commencement speaker was Bishop Vashti McKenzie.  Her speech challenged the graduating class to move forward and to do great things. I left my graduation so inspired that it literally gave me chills. I held on to the vision God gave me way back in middle school. But what put the icing on the cake for me to kick things into gear was a sermon called “Dream Chaser” a guest preacher spoke at my church. As he was telling the Old Testament bible story of Joseph, I sat in my seat with tears in my eyes. All I could hear was God saying “All those years ago, I gave you nothing more than a dream, often waking you out of your sleep.  Little by little I implanted certain people and gifts in your life for such a time as this. From that point on I no longer wondered how or when because that day it was so very clear to me. the time was finally NOW. God’s timing couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

So that next day, I shared with my co-workers the dream God gave me so many years ago. They each helped me map out just “how” to get things off the ground. After fives months of doing research, talking things through, bouncing off ideas, planning and paperwork on November 20th 2004 to be exact, 20 of my closest friends and co-workers crammed into my one bedroom apartment to attend BOND Inc’s first interest meeting. By the end of the night, all 20 of them joined and as they say the rest is history. Here it is seven years later and with a few bumps in the road, we are still growing strong and continuing to do great things.

What is Poetry & Presents Event About?
We've been able to accomplish a lot in just seven years. We put quite a few initiatives into action and hosted a number of successful events. We always ensure that everyone of our events or projects fall in line with our mission and purpose. If what I do or put together doesn’t uplift, motivate or empower than what I’ve only managed to do was waste my time and somebody else’s.  Time is just way too valuable, too precious to be wasted.

What really pulls at to my heart strings is being in a position to give to others. I love the act of giving and find it so worthwhile. I would even adventure to say that giving is embedded in my DNA. Having a father as a Pastor (Elder Kenneth Fowlkes of Kingdom Builders Church of God In Christ located in Hanover, MD) and un-coincidentally being named after my maternal grandmother, Navis Wiggins two inspirational and influential people in my life. They both in my opinion, epitomizes what a giver should be like. They give so unselfishly. I’ve watched people take advantage of their kindness, say unkind things about them yet they overlooked what others have done or said and continue to give. Even to the same people who have mistreated them. Wow, talk about being selfless.

I also love how Oprah gives so unselfishly. Every time I watch one of her shows where she surprised a guest with a house, or a car, or paid someone’s debt or whatever, I take it so very personal to the point that I get emotional. I cry right along with them; many times, sobbing just like a baby. I’m just so fascinated with it all. I tell myself often that one day, I’m going to be in position to that and while I don’t have Oprah’s money, just yet (lol), I do have Oprah’s heart. Although BOND isn’t in the position financially to do as much as Oprah does we still chose to do something. I so want to give with the same heart, the same intensity and zeal as she does, expecting nothing in return other than to see a grateful smile on someone’s face or witness how someone’s life was changed for the better from what I was able to do. That to me is PRICELESS.

For 10 months out of the year many of us live quite selfishly. We concern ourselves with doing what makes us happy, what’s easy and enjoyable for us, which is quite OK because sometimes its essential for us to take care of and be good to ourselves. However, why not donate some our time, energy, efforts, money and resources to benefit the needs of someone other than ourselves for the last two months out of the year?

Since our existence, we’ve adopted the tradition of doing something that would benefit those less fortunate.  One year we volunteered our time at a homeless shelter, another time we raised funds and donated the proceeds to a local organization for women. We also started BOND Boutique, an initiative that provided women with business attire for job interviews and work. Other times BOND members donated boxes of unused undergarments to a local organization that assists women victimized by rape.  So this year would be no different in us continuing on with the tradition of giving. We coordinated with the Maryland Department of Social Services and the House of Ruth to provide us with families in need of support during this time of year.

What Can Others Expect at this Event?
Wow, that’s a great question. This year the Poetry and Presents will be at the Owen Brown Center located at 6800 Cradlerock Way in Columbia, MD. Doors will open at 730pm. I cannot stress enough how amazing this event is going to be. What can others expect; well our guest can defiantly expect a packed house. Expect a number of talented poets and spoken word performers from all over the DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania area coming to showcase their talent. Guest can expect none other than DC’s very own talented artist, poet, performer and upcoming author Mina Holladay, gracing the mic as our evening’s host. Guest can expect to hear light jazz and neo-soul from Baltimore’s own, DJ Cebo. Guest can also expect to mix, mingle and network with some of the finest men and women from all over.  We'll have tasty hors d'oeuvres, lights and cameras flashing, and just a great atmosphere,  Just expect the unexpected because BOND Inc has a lot of great things up our sleeve. Our list continues to grow with ideas because I want our guest to have a great time all while supporting a great cause.

Where to Go For Tickets or More Information

For tickets people can go to and click on our Poetry and Presents page. From there you will find a PayPal link. Tickets are only $12 or 2 for $20 which we purposely made very affordable. I think our guest will be quite surprised what they’ll get for such a low price. We highly encourage people to get their tickets sooner rather than later because once tickets are gone they are all gone.  They should not wait until the last minute because word about this event is traveling far and wide.

How Can Others Support
We are so very appreciative for what others have given thus far but we still have a long way to go of reaching our goal of putting a great big smile on the faces of five designated families this season. I have such a great team working tirelessly to put the word out.  We’re also reaching out to local business and organizations to provide either in-kind or monetary donations to this worthy cause. We’ve created a great sponsorship package; I know business owners will be pleased with especially with the level of exposure they will be gaining. Not to mention they too will be donating to a great cause.
We are still seeking sponsorship; in-kind donations and monetary donations so if anyone is interested in supporting this initiative, please visit us on the web at click on the Poetry and Presents page for additional ways to support or email us at for a personalized sponsorship packages. No gift is too small and we greatly appreciate whatever anyone can do in support.
Any Final Remarks
This is by far one of our biggest initiatives and I’m so excited and truly looking forward to the outcome. I’m truly grateful for our gracious poets who are just as excited, Mina Holladay who’s been a big help with the planning of this event, to our supporters and especially grateful to my BOND Sisters (Sheron Matthews, Gail Murray, Tiffani Ballard, Tamika Smith, Sherl Randolph, Brenda Worthington, Nitiya Ojuolape, and Rashida Challenger) who’ve taken on this project like it was their own. Many working tirelessly right along with me. That means so much to me and it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
What’s On BOND Inc Agenda for 2012?
Wow, 2011 has been an amazing year for BOND Inc. We’ve seen a lot of growth internally and externally. Our supporters have been phenomenal. We’ve seen an increase in membership and gaining a positive presence far and wide. I’m so excited about the great things in store for 2012. There's been a few organizations that have reached out to us with talk of partnerships.  This will greatly benefit our members, the other organization but more importantly the community we love to serve. There are a few projects we’re considering such as a motivational conference for middle/high school teenage girls. Many of our supporters are asking for another “Can We Talk” relationship panel discussion. We’ve gained two more contributing writers which will mean our online presences will expand. Of course we have BOND’s staple, our quarterly BOND Gatherings which will never go out of style. So you can see we have a laundry list of things that we’re planning to do. There goes that list again. We can’t help it; BOND Girls don’t believe in sitting idle. How can we? We’re just way too excited about basking in the unlimited possibilities and sharing it with others.
How Can People Learn More About BOND Inc.
For more information, a schedule of gatherings, events or other initiatives, please visit BOND Inc. at or contact
Thank you!

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