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Hidden Gems: Meet Toni Reynolds-Criner of T.C. Mentoring and Consulting

Today we’d like to introduce you to Toni Reynolds-Criner.

Hi Toni, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Oak Cliff, Texas with my grandmother in this small three-bedroom house right across the street from W. W. Bushman Elementary School off of Bonnie View Rd. The house was always packed with me and my siblings and all of my cousins. I remember spending summers racing my cousin’s barefoot during street races, hustling a few dollars from my uncle to buy my favorite candy from the corner store, and let’s not forget “tippin on 44’s” down the street on my big wheel with my braids and a head full of bow bows.

Those family traditions came to a halt at the age of six when my life became micro scoped as I was taken away from my biological family and placed into Child Protective Services. I shortly became eligible for adoption and featured on WFAA Channel 8 Wednesday Child session. I had been placed in 15 different homes around the Dallas Fort-Worth area before finding my forever home. At the age of 12, and by the grace of God, I was placed with a family who later became my adoptive family, where I then became Miss Toni Reynolds-Criner.

Although I faced many obstacles such as juvenile detention centers, multiple foster homes, truancy issues, and more, I found my balance in life with the help of my mom Cecelia Criner and granny Gwendolyn Hill. They challenged my mind and pushed me to become the best version of myself. Their belief in me, despite my life journey pushed me towards dispelling generational curses, higher education, and an overall growth mindset. That growth mindset helped me to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tougaloo College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Howard University. I utilized my political science degree by interning on Capitol Hill in the office of Congresswoman Karen Bass. After my time on the Hill, I went on to pioneer a White House initiative where I had the opportunity to work with Washington D.C.’s most vulnerable transitioned-aged youth. In 2019, I was selected by the National Foster Youth Institute to serve as the 2019-2020 Congressional Foster Care Delegate. As a Delegate, I traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and policymakers to discuss ways to better the child welfare system across the country those members were Nancy Pelosi, Jahana Hayes, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just to name a few. During this amazing year of opportunities, I also started my first business T.C. Mentoring and Consulting LLC which is now documented in congressional records.

As an avid humanitarian, educator, mentor, and proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, I believe it is my purpose to advocate for those who find themselves without guidance, resources, and yes, those who are given second chances to get it right. Through my life experiences, I am a life-certified change agent giving back to the community what the community gave to me and that is HOPE, and a chance to break generational curses within youth who are in foster care with an emphasis on the African American community. I’ll continue to be an advocate and accountability partner. I’m truly dedicated to public service and being the change I would like to see in the world and within my local community.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Smooth road where? I went through hell and back to get to where I am today. Although I faced many obstacles such as 15 different foster homes, juvenile detention centers, truancy issues, and more, I found my balance in life with the help of my mom Cecelia Criner, granny Gwendolyn Hill, my church family over at Friendship West Baptist Church, therapist, and countless of others. My village of family and friends challenged me in ways that helped me to discover who I am and the strength I had inside of me to succeed and to become the best version of myself.

As a professional and growing young woman, I’m still encountering life challenges, But I tackle them with a little more assurance that everything will work out in my favor and that all L’s are not life sentences but a short detour to what God truly has for me.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about T.C. Mentoring and Consulting LLC?
T.C. Mentoring and Consulting LLC. Our mission is to connect at risk youth and young adults ages15-24 to supportive programs within their local communities. These services include mental health services, education services, mentoring, work readiness programs, life skills counseling and more. While providing services to youth, we offer consulting to foster care and adoption agencies through interactive lectures, informational sessions, and motivational speaking engagements.

The program promotes self-esteem building/confidence, etiquette, decision-making, and communication skills. This program is aimed to point youth and young adults into making positive life choices and growing into adulthood. Some of the life skills we promote are Goal Setting, Foster Youth Transition planning, Morals and Values, and Professional Development.

This is one of our most popular services available. It’s made a big difference for many of our customers and is provided with the highest level of excellence. With this service, we ensure all details are catered to each agencies individualized needs. I have consulted with agencies such as the Texas Women’s University Social Work Department, The Barker Adoption Foundation, D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Dallas Independent Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Maryland Public Schools, D.C. Child and Family Services, The Barker Adoption Foundation and with Dallas, Texas Friends of Wednesday’s Child. Whenever you work with T.C. Mentoring and Consulting LLC, you can trust that your agency and target audience will receive life-changing tools.

How do you think about luck?
Luck or Favor? I wholeheartedly believe that God favored my life in ways that I can’t explain. As a child and as an adult, I prayed for things that I never shared with a single soul but received exactly what I prayed for. I’ve made vision boards of things I wanted to manifest in my life and business but God always provides something greater than what I had never imagined. So, luck? Nah. I would say that the favor of God has always covered every aspect of my life. Have I faced bad experiences in life? Absolutely! Did I come out on the other side unscathed and in my right mind? Absolutely! That’s favor, not luck.

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Image Credits:

Jason Spears

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