I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Mentoring Inspires, Encourages

Written By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine 

All Photos Credits for this story- AJ Photography 

There isn’t much that Latonya Garth can’t imagine.

 Fittingly, her Nonprofit Inspire, Motivate, Achieve, Grow, Intervene, Encourage (I.M.A.G.I.N.E.) Mentoring Program of Michigan celebrated its 6th year of operation with a gala in Detroit.

The formal affair was complete with live music (including songstress Angela Davis, whose smooth voice effortlessly resembles that of neo-soul artist Jill Scott), entertainment such as modern dance and poetry highlighting the false world of social media, and powerful shared reflections.

“Ever since Ms. Garth has been in my life I have committed to what I said I would,” said Reflectionist Sykenya

Refelectionist Skykenya

Refelectionist Sykenya Jackson

Jackson, who will attend Macomb Community College in February 2017.

Jackson was followed by Lauren Sowell who mentioned that the sessions “Know Your Worth” and the “Five People Factor” through I.M.A.G.I.N.E. have really helped her. Sowell is a detox nurse at age 24. Although she is a young mom and regrets the effects from her former lifestyle, she remains determined, and moved many in the audience to tears, including Garth.

Reflectionist Lauren Sowell

Reflectionist Lauren Sowell

The woman of the evening was introduced and began her speech by having her daughter Micah recite the I.M.A.G.I.N.E. proclamation. It became apparent that Micah, aged 2, hears those words recited often.

“I want everyone to know I have two babies, one who is two years old, and another child that’s six years old on life support (referring to I.M.A.G.I.N.E.) I’m also a stripper,” said Garth who quickly glanced at her dad, Michael Garth, after making that statement. She knew she had to explain herself. “I.M.A.G.I.N.E. allows me to strip off the person that comes in the door, and then build them back up.”

To her dad’s relief, he yelled “Well, strip on then!” followed by laughter from the crowd.

Garth wasn’t ashamed to admit that she had not intended to be the keynote speaker for the event. But doing so was

Latonya Garth and her daughter, Micah

Latonya Garth and her daughter, Micah

just what she needed. It was as if her speech was a form of catharsis for her.  She spoke about not letting others get in the way of your dreams. She effortlessly and honestly reduced people to three categories saying “Don’t ever let anyone change you… people are either for you, against you, or in your way.”

Garth, who has had much success in 2016 by visiting over 20 different places on behalf of I.M.A.G.I.N.E. admitted to some disappointments. For example, the former building for I.M.A.G.I.N.E. was an “emotional decision” she learned from and that “it’s ok to take a step back in order to take a step forward.” Above all, Garth made it clear that “the dream will not die.” Her speech came full circle as she encouraged the crowd to stand and recite the I.M.A.G.I.N.E. proclamation with her.
It was inevitable that guests left the gala that evening asking themselves the very question Garth had put to them: ‘ I desire change, do you?’
For more information please visit imaginementoring.com

Author: Leah Olajide

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