‘Your Debt Is Completely Gone’: Church Helps 4,000 Families with a $10.5M Blessing

More than 4,000 families had an extra special Easter when a megachurch in Texas blessed them in an extraordinary way.
The Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas usually spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise for their Easter services, but this year they decided to do something different with the money.
The church set aside and donated $100,000 to an organization, RIP Medical Debt, that purchases medical debt for pennies on the dollar and relieves families of their financial burdens.
In turn, more than 4,000 families in a 5-mile radius of each of the church’s five campuses had their medical debt completely paid off.
Senior Pastor Stephen Hayes made the announcement at the end of his sermon on Easter Sunday, tearing up as he thanked the members of his congregation for their generous giving hearts that made it all happen.
Hayes said, “Because you gave above and beyond what was needed… 4,229 families this week will be getting a letter in the mail saying, ‘Your debt is completely gone.'”
The medical debt paid off totaled more than $10.5 million.
“We decided to put up $100,000. Man, can I tell you it is the easiest decision we have ever made,” Hayes said. “It ended up paying off $10,551,618 in total debt that is paid and gone forever.”
Hayes then used the moment to remind his congregation that they all have received a similar letter in life.
“If you can imagine what those people this week will be feeling when they receive the letter you sent them saying their debt is paid,” Hayes said. “I prayed 100-fold that you would feel in reading the letter He wrote to you in the book of John 19:30. …Hey, your debt of sin is paid. You are covered. He wrote a letter to us too.”
According to NBC-DFW, Hayes knows the heavy burden of medical debt because he was hit by a car when he was 17 and spent 12 days in intensive care.
SOURCE: CBN NEWS
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Winnie Mandela dies. Here are five things to know about the anti-apartheid icon

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela and an anti-apartheid figure in her own right, has died at age 81.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year,” said family spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement, reported the BBC. “She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
1. ‘Mother of the Nation’
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, known in South Africa as the “Mother of the Nation” for her struggle against white minority rule, was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on Robben Island near Cape Town, according to CNN. The couple had two daughters together before divorcing in 1996, two years after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.

“She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces,” the Africa National Congress said in a statement, reported National Public Radio.
2. Anti-apartheid crusader
While Nelson Mandela served his long prison sentence, Madikizela-Mandela also faced detention by South Africa’s apartheid government for her campaign to end white minority rule, reported The Times of London. She was placed after house arrest and at one point banished to a small town in the Orange Free State, a province of South Africa.
In 1969, she was incarcerated for 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison, where she was beaten and tortured.
“My whole body was badly swollen, I was passing blood,” she wrote in her memoir, reported The Washington Post. “The whole experience is so terrible, because I had left little children at home in bed and I had no idea what had happened to them.”
3. Tainted by scandal
In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of ordering the 1988 kidnapping of four youths in Soweto, South Africa, reported The New York Times. Her followers carried out the kidnappings to try to discredit a Methodist minister at whose home the youths had been staying. The body of one, a 14-year-old, was found with his throat cut. Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping but South Africa’s highest appeals court trimmed the sentence to fines and time served.
She was expelled from the United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of organizations fighting apartheid, and separated from Nelson Mandela in 1992, with their divorce becoming final in 1996.
Named deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology in 1994 by Nelson Mandela following his election as South Africa’s first black president, Madikizela-Mandela was later forced to resign amid allegations of influence peddling, bribery and misuse of government funds.
4. Return to politics
In the late 2000s, Madikizela-Mandela re-emerged as one of the nation’s most popular politicians, reported ABC News, serving as a member of parliament. In 2016, she received the Order of Luthuli in Silver for her contribution to the fight against apartheid.
5. Her legacy
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, also an icon of the anti-apartheid movement, released a statement Monday praising “Mama Winnie” and wishing that she might “rest in peace and rise in glory,” according to CBS News.
“She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment,” Tutu said. “Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists.”
Actor Idris Elba, who played Nelson Mandela in the film “Long Walk to Freedom,” tweeted: “Rest in peace Mama Winnie. My heart is heavy right now. You lived a full and important life contributing to the liberation of a nation by force and ACTUAL ACTIVISM.”

“In the darkest hours of the struggle to free South Africa, with Nelson Mandela in prison, the face of hope and courage was #Winnie Mandela. May she forever rest in #Power,” wrote the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

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Melissa Harville-Lebron: The First Black Woman to Own a NASCAR Team

Diversity in sports racing is lacking as only a few people of color are part of racing organizations such as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). But Melissa Harville-Lebron is a Black American woman that owns a NASCAR team franchise.

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The 47-year old started her career in the entertainment industry when she worked as an intern at Sony Music. She already launched her own music label in 2005 while working for New York City’s Department of Correction Office. But after a severe asthma attack ten years later, she had to retire early.

Yet it seems that it had been a blessing in disguise. In 2014, she took the risk and opened a multifaceted entertainment company, W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc. She then created E2 Northeast Motorsports and just recently, she signed a deal with NASCAR, making her the first black woman to own a NASCAR team.

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It all started unexpectedly when she brought her sons, Eric and Enico, to a NASCAR experience event. She told Black Enterprise, “I got invited to a NASCAR experience and I brought my boys along thinking that it would discourage them from driving.”

However, her sons loved the sport even more and so she learned to also love her sons’ passion. As she got more involved in the sport, she noticed the lack of diversity since it is dominated mostly by white males. So she decided to bridge the gap and create her own team.

Her team, E2 Northeast Motorsports, is the first multicultural team to race competitively in NASCAR. It consists of four black and Latino drivers, two in the Camping World Truck Series and two in the Whelen All-American Series, and two of which are her sons.

On February 16, her team also competed in its first race in the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Daytona where Scott Stenzel finished 15th place at Daytona.

In a statement, she said, “This team truly exemplifies diversity that is sure to attract a younger multicultural fan base. It’s an honor to announce that Stenzel is now a part of this racing family.”

She also emphasized the relevance of her endeavor. She said, “It’s important for our culture to push generational wealth to our children. It’s important to lead by example. All too often our children see negative images of our culture and I think it’s very important for people of our culture actually succeeding in business.”

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Spring Forward: Tips For Adjusting To Daylight Saving Time

Time to “spring” forward and lose a precious hour of sleep Sunday.
The transition to daylight saving time can be especially brutal, said Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. “The body has a harder time adjusting to losing sleep,” he said. Here are his tips for surviving the time change on Sunday:
1. Head to bed earlier
In the days leading up to the spring time change, try to go to sleep about 15 to 30 minutes earlier than usual to help make the hour’s loss of sleep less abrupt. (This tip may be too late for you now, but remember it for next year.)
2. Stick to your schedule
You want to resume your normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible.That means waking up at the time you normally would on a Sunday, and maybe even a little earlier, he said. And maybe limit, or skip, any napping. You want to be so tired Sunday night that you easily fall asleep at your normal bedtime, allowing you to get back on schedule as soon as possible.
3. Avoid stimulants
Avoid resorting to coffee to get yourself up early and alcohol to help you get to sleep. (“Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and is not worth it,” Avidan said.) Also avoid eating and exercising late on Sunday too. All these stimulants make it harder for you to fall asleep.
4. Seek out the sun
Stepping out into sunlight helps our bodies adjust to the time change. So next week, seek out direct sun exposure as early as possible, he said. You don’t need to go to the beach. You can pull back a curtain and sit for a few minutes next to a sun-facing window, or take a walk outside during your coffee break.
5. But avoid too much light
As in, artificial light. Avidan knows this is extreme, but he recommends that people with chronic sleep problems avoid all artificial light — including from TVs, computers and smartphones for two hours before they go to sleep.
6. Change all the clocks
Our cellphones and other devices automatically reflect the time change, which makes it easy to forget that you need to manually do the same for other clocks. It’s way too easy to forget to change one key clock — such as the one on the microwave that you eyeball to make sure you’re heading out the door in time — and then find yourself completely behind.
SOURCE: LA TIMES

Serena Williams wins 1st match in comeback at Indian Wells

Walking on court for the first match of her latest comeback, Serena Williams allowed herself a rare smile. This time, tennis is different for the 23-time major winner.
What didn’t change is Williams winning.
She beat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday night after a 14-month layoff for the birth of her first daughter.
“I almost cried before the match,” Williams said. “I texted Alexis, I was like, is it normal that I want to cry? I really missed her, but playing at night really helped because I know she goes to bed and she goes to sleep. I can’t like play with her right now.”
With new husband and Reddit co-found Alexis Ohanian looking on, Williams played from behind until breaking Diyas in the 11th game of the first set. Diyas netted a forehand and Williams yelled, “Come on!” as the crowd cheered.
“Right now, for this particular tournament, I’m really just trying to take it easy and not put so much pressure or stress or expectation on myself,” she said. “I feel like it’s one of the few times I’ve been able to do that.”
Williams has been away since winning the 2017 Australian Open early in her pregnancy. She gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. six months ago.
Williams is playing at Indian Wells under a protected ranking of 22nd. She hasn’t been unseeded at a tournament since 2011 in Cincinnati.
“I’m playing with nothing to lose, I only can gain,” she said. “For me, it’s a real joy to be out here.”
The half-full stadium warmly greeted Williams, with many fans giving her a standing ovation as she entered.
Williams served a love game capped by a 100-mph ace in her first service game. She had break points in the first and fifth games but couldn’t convert. She started hitting harder and her familiar grunting returned when she tied the set 5-all.
Diyas and Williams traded service breaks early in the second set. Williams then broke her opponent again en route to winning the final five games in front of the half-full stadium. She smiled as she walked to the net, and her family gave her a standing ovation.
“It definitely wasn’t easy,” Williams said on court. “We always have a couple tight sets. It was good. I’m a little rusty, but it doesn’t matter. I’m just out here on this journey and doing the best I can.”
Also in Williams’ box were her mother Oracene, sisters Lyndrea and Isha, her agent, and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Older sister Venus watched from a balcony seat in an upper-level box on a 68-degree night in the Southern California desert.
Ohanian bought four billboards along Interstate 10 outside Palm Springs in tribute to his wife. The fourth billboard shows a photo of Williams and their daughter with the phrase “G.M.O.A.T” — greatest mother of all time — and is signed by Alexis Sr. and Jr.
Now she’s traveling the tour with her baby and sometimes her husband, when he isn’t off working.
“I’ve never done this before,” she said. “I know I’ll make mistakes and I’m OK with that.”
Williams’ only competitive appearances since the birth came in December at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, a Fed Cup doubles match with sister Venus last month and an exhibition in New York on Monday.
Another new mother, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, won her first-round match over Heather Watson 6-4, 6-2.
The two-time winner of the desert tournament needed a wild card to get in because she has been off the tour since Wimbledon. Azarenka, who gave birth to son Leo in December 2016, has been in a custody fight that limited her travel.
In other first-round matches, CiCi Bellis overpowered qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 6-3.
The 18-year-old American, who spurned a full scholarship from Stanford to turn pro last August, had her serve broken just once by the Spaniard in the 65-minute match. Bellis earned a second-round matchup with defending champion Elena Vesnina of Russia.
Bellis led five Americans into the second round. She was joined by wild card Danielle Collins and Jennifer Brady, who both got stretched to three sets. Taylor Fritz needed three sets to advance in the men’s draw as did Mitchell Krueger and Jared Donaldson.

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Downtown Homeless Women Gifted with Personal Beauty Items for Valentine’s Day

On February 14th more than 500 homeless women received “Essential Love Bags” filled with personal hygiene and beauty items, as well as hugs, encouragement and prayers.

Project Saving Grace” collected donations from around the country, filling more than 500 bags to serve the personal care needs of the Downtown LA homeless population.

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Project Saving Grace Team here with Union Rescue Mission’s Volunteer Coordinator, Tyrone D Nance

 

 

Bizzy Hands, Kind Hearts was birthed out of an original campaign ‘Project Saving Grace’ hosted by The BIZZ Magazine. The BIZZ Magazine, founded by Octavia Clayton Smith, is a Personal Event Concierge Magazine, dedicated to empowering event professionals with ideas, intelligence and resources to create amazing experiences for clients. Project Saving Grace started out as a large vision in Octavia’s heart, a small to others, but a beginning step to a grander vision from God.

The mission for Project Saving Grace 2018 was to bring joy to hundreds of women by handing out “Essential Love Bags’ to those living in downtown Los Angeles shelters and living in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

The vision for this was conceived in Octavia’s home, with a goal of making 500 bags with personal hygiene items inside. When Octavia and friend Phadra Allen were thinking of a name for this campaign, they thought of Saving Grace as saving women. “Then a light came on and I got the chills!”, said Octavia.

“‘Saving Grace’ is about a women’s dignity.  It’s about not being forgotten – It’s a movement!   It’s about doing God’s work to save others when they cannot save themselves,” she stated.

 

 

Homeless women typically know where to find a safe place to sleep or a hot meal to eat. But when it comes to taking care of their feminine hygiene needs, they often have nowhere to turn.  Sanitary needs and personal beauty items usually top the list of needs at shelters. But since they are pricey, and supporters don’t often donate them, homeless women usually have to do without.  Knowing this, our group of volunteers began getting word out about items needed for the bags.

I was truly overwhelmed with the love, donations and inspiration from family, friends and strangers from around the globe.  Every day before I got out of my car to go into my home, I cried and thanked God for blessing me with a platform to assist in meeting the real needs of women – those that are homeless, perhaps have lost their job, those that are struggling with addiction, suffering from mental health issues – get a leg up with items that would help them feel clean, pretty and special,” said Octavia.

Donations came in as far as Florida.  They surpassed their goal by 77 bags. On Valentine’s Day Octavia, her husband Vernon and a team of 7 other volunteers were able to hand out 577 bags.  During the distribution, they were fortunate to meet and greet many of the women.

 

 

“Their heartfelt thank you, smiles, hugs and tears made us know we had made a difference that day,” she said.

The team set up at the Union Rescue Mission and received a tour of the facility from Volunteer Coordinator Tyrone D. Nance prior to the gift bag distribution.

 

 

L.A. County is known for glamour and glitz. But if you look past the bright lights, you’ll see what angels see — men, women, and children of all ages that have lost their homes — and their hope. Los Angeles accounts for 3% of the total United States population, but is home to 7% of all people experiencing homelessness. Located in the heart of Skid Row, Union Rescue Mission is a refuge of help and hope. A safe haven where men, women, and children can get the guidance and support they need to live a life transformed.

The following is Union Rescue Mission’s 10-Step plan to end homelessness as we know it today:

Afterward the URM distribution, the PSG Team headed to Volunteers of America to distribute additional bags.  Thank you to Nancy Holloway for partnering with PSG.

 

 

Octavia Clayton Smith and the team wants to thank the following individuals and organitions for their generous donations and assistance in making this campaign a great success:

Santee Educational Complex
1921 Maple Ave, L.A., CA
Students from the fashion dept made the bags. Mrs Banks is the Teacher

Kinfolk’s Country Store
Bellflower, CA
Owner-Stormyweather Banks

Tyrone D Nance
Volunteer Coordinator
Union Rescue Mission

Nancy Holloway
Coordinator
Volunteers Of America, South Los Angeles Women’s Center

Tina Russek, Gift in Kind Manager
Los Angeles Mission

Tonya Hubbard
Life Program Supervisor
Long Beach Rescue Mission

Southern American Indian Center
Los Angeles, CA

Bed Bath and Beyond
8820 S. Sepulveda Blvd
Westchester, CA

99 cent Bargain
21919 N. Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA

While Valentine’s Day is over, the struggle is real for thousands of homeless women, their children and young adults.  As long as this issue exists, we will continue to campaign ‘Project Saving Grace’,” stated Octavia.

Learn more about The BIZZ Magazine and their work, follow them on Facebook HERE.

SPMG Media – Official Media Partner for The BIZZ Magazine/Bizzy Hands, Kind Hearts

Content and Photos by SPMG Media

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Trump Touts NRA Plan To Arm Teachers At CPAC

President Donald Trump took the stage at CPAC this morning to promote the National Rifle Association’s proposal to arm teachers in the wake of the latest school semi-automatic rifle mass shooting. “When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones it just puts our students in more danger – well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches should…

via Trump Touts NRA Plan To Arm Teachers At CPAC — Deadline

 

Look Out Long Beach…Stacey Dash is running for Congress in California

 

The district the former Clueless actor and conservative commentator is running for includes Compton and North Long Beach.

Actress Stacey Dash, an outspoken conservative, has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for Congress this year in a deep-blue House district just south of Los Angeles.
Dash, best known for her role in “Clueless” as the fashion-savvy Dee, registered her campaign committee “Dash to DC” on Monday to run in California’s 44th Congressional District.
It’s an uphill dash for the actress to say the least.
In 2016, the November general election featured a Democrat running against a Democrat because of California’s rule that the top two primary candidates – no matter what party – advance to the general election. Freshman Rep. Nanette Barragán only won by 52 percent in that contest against a fellow Democrat.

Stacey Dash teases bid for Congress

In that primary contest, the top Republican candidate came in sixth. Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 election with 83 percent.
California’s 44th district, which includes Compton and East Compton, is a majority Hispanic area with 69.4 percent of the population being of Latino descent. Blacks make up 15.12 percent while whites make up 7.9 percent, according the the U.S. Census.
Dash would be considered an unconventional candidate and not just because of her Hollywood background. Dash has posed for Playboy, which she has defended saying her children supported her decision.
And she has made controversial comments about Democrats, saying the party has a “plantation mentality” and transgender individuals should “go in the bushes” if they need a bathroom.

She was born in the Bronx in New York City. She was a Democrat but switched her party affiliation in 2012.
Of making the switch, she told People magazine in July 2014: “I had been thinking about it for the four years after I voted for Obama. I really started paying attention to politics and how it directly relates to my everyday life. I realized that I wasn’t happy with what was going on so in 2012 I wanted it to go in a different direction. I realized that I am a Republican. First of all I am a capitalist, but second of all I am a Republican.”

SOURCE: ABC

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Dallas Mavericks announce Cynthia Marshall as interim CEO

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Marshall joins the Mavericks after a career at AT&T spearheading programs promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Mark Cuban is used to being in charge. He’s built his larger-than-life reputation on being a hands-on personality, taking pride in knowing the minutia of his projects and especially that of the Dallas Mavericks. Monday afternoon, however, when newly-hired interim CEO Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall was introduced at a press conference, it was clear that Cuban wasn’t in charge. Marshall was.

Marshall joins the Mavericks with the mission of cleaning up the organization as faces its biggest internal challenge. Last week, Sports Illustrated released a scathing report detailing a pervasive culture of alleged sexual assault and domestic violence within the Mavericks’ offices. The report names three employees—president and CEO Terdema Ussery, vice president of human resources Buddy Pittman, and Mavs.com beat writer Earl K. Sneed—as primary purveyors of a “toxic culture.” None of them are with the team any more. (You can read all of MMB’s coverage of the scandal here.) Even though Marshall’s tenure with the team just began, she is already hard at work.

”Although we are in the early stages of our response, we’ve identified three immediate areas of focus: the investigation, culture transformation, and operational effectiveness,” Marshall said in a prepared statement Monday with Cuban by her side. “Independent investigators are in the process of conducting interviews with current and former—we’re covering both—current and former employees. The purpose of the interviews is to make sure all issues and allegations are surfaced and addressed. We need everything to come out. Allegations will be thoroughly investigated and any required disciplinary action will be administered swiftly.”

Marshall joins the Mavs after 36 years with AT&T, most recently as senior vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer before her retirement from the company in 2017. Her no-nonsense language in the press conference speaks to her career with AT&T. While there, Marshall led efforts to overcome unconscious biases, develop women leaders, and create a highly lauded culture of diversity and inclusion.

“Cynt is not coming in here to be the savior of the world,” Marshall said, speaking in third person. “What I have learned is that it takes a team, it takes a village, and we will get this done. We’re talking about 140 people. But a culture transcends even beyond just our workplace.”

This speaks to her overall attitude on how workplaces should function and her approach to fixing the Mavericks. That, as well as a conversation with leadership at AT&T, is what drew Cuban to Marshall and led to him calling her. After talking on the phone, the two eventually met in person. After that meeting, it wasn’t long before Marshall agreed to come on board because she was convinced the Mavericks aligned with her beliefs.

“This is my opportunity to be part of the solution with a lot of other people who are trying to help with this issue,” Marshall said. “…And I told [Cuban], ‘I have to think about this. I have a brand. I worked very hard for the brand I have, and I can’t attach my brand to something I can’t trust, and something that is not reliable, and something that’s—I don’t mind flawed, because we’re all flawed to some degree—but if it lacks integrity I can’t attach my brand to it.’ And by the time I left his office and spent the day with some folks, I said ‘I absolutely will attach my brand to this organization.’”

Marshall also met with head coach Rick Carlisle for 15-20 minutes Monday, and he introduced her to the players as well. After the meeting, it was clear that she left a positive impression on the Mavs coach.

“She’s going to be great,” Carlisle said. “She’s dynamic, she’s charismatic, and she’s extremely smart. And she’s intolerant of any bullshit. That’s pretty clear.”

For his part, Cuban sat mostly silent during the 24 minute press conference, a stark contrast to the boisterous persona that he has cultivated since purchasing the Mavericks in 2000. He meekly deferred repeated questions about his knowledge of events to Marshall while offering that everything will come out once the investigation, headed by Evan Krutoy and Anne Milgram of Krutoy Law, is complete.

Until that time, he will won’t be saying much, taking a backseat to Marshall who will be doing all the talking. And after Monday, she appears to be saying all the right things.

“I am determined, and Mark is determined, that the Dallas Mavericks will be the standard,” Marshall said. “We’re laying out a vision that says by 2019 the Dallas Mavericks will be the standard. We will be leading the way in inclusion and diversity.”

SOURCE: MAVERICKS

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