On two consecutive Saturdays, the Irving-Carrollton NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, held both a virtual event and an in-person event supporting the community, and ultimately led by women.
The first Saturday, November 14, 2020, the “Women in Trucking and Women in Business” conference was held online. This complimentary event was to introduce, educate, and highlight that after obtaining a CDL( commercial drivers license), women can seek this nontraditional career pathway and sometimes be just as successful as a college graduate. The Women In Trucking Ambassador panelist was Kellylynn McLaughlin of Frisco, who once served in the Peace Corps and now works for Schneider. She has an abundance of energy sharing her profession. The challenges, the benefits, and the changes within the industry were discussed. If given the opportunity to spread her message on a billboard, it would read: “MERGE LIKE A ZIPPER”. She emphasized trucking is essential business and the plethora of career opportunities in trucking, not just driving; logistics, IT, sales, etc. Kellylynn reaffirmed the importance and necessity for women to help each other and reach back in the community to lead and guide others.
The other panelist was Darlene Humphries, the Purchasing Manager for the City of Irving, concentrated on the business segment of the conference. She discussed the importance for entrepreneurs to review past bid briefs to see how a business qualifies for a contract with the City. Her office staff of seven is always open to answering questions and helping business owners achieve success. She stated that having professional development skills and a business acumen/risk-taking acumen mix are significant factors to reaching proficient goals and objectives.
One actively engaged participant, La’Kisha James of Mooresville, North Carolina, discovered this event particularly enlightening as she is on her journey of obtaining a transportation company. She says, “She has learned to keep educating yourself, and go to places (online during the pandemic), join group meetings, ask the experts of their experiences, and constantly build on yourself.” After each encounter, she keeps track of what were the lessons learned.
Tony Grimes, President of the Irving-Carrollton NAACP, and a small business owner himself, shared the advantages of accepting small contract bids and the benefits of gaining contacts and marketing. The learning, negotiating, and networking opportunities are endless.
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The following Saturday, November 21, 2020, was the toy donation drive at the Georgia Farrow Recreation Center. Since the City of Irving $ 3 million dollar project is underway to renovate the park, trucks were able to meet just outside the entrance. This toy drive effort is a collaboration and partnership with the Irving Police and Fire Department to benefit their BLUE CHRISTMAS event. While keeping socially distanced and wearing masks outside, a total of 64 toys and 22 food items were collected and provided to Blue Christmas Organizer Kim Paris. Special thanks to these lovely ladies coordinating the in-person toy event: Alicia Hinkle, Brittany Fuller, Delia Watley, and Fatema Biviji.
Also congrats to the $50 Wal-Mart gift card raffle winners who happen to be wonderful women in the Irving community: Ernestine, Jennifer, and Lenore, and Wanda. Overall, these community events could not have been a success without the caring neighbors and involved supporters. Even now, during these unprecedented times, these community efforts will be treasured abundantly by local children, career –transitioners/job-seekers, and future leaders.