Today we’d like to introduce you to Yolanda Johnson Bailey.
Yolanda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Born and raised in Fort Worth (Cowtown), Texas, I don’t consider myself a cowgirl, but what I am, is a wife, a mother, and a proud G-Mama of nine cuties. In addition to family life, I am much like the Proverbs 31 woman. I wear many, many hats. As a singer, songwriter, author, playwright, actress, speaker, life coach, and founder of the Faith Eyes Inc. organization, let’s just say, “the juggle is real.” Working to balance every aspect of my life sometimes presents its challenges, but I love who I am and what I’ve been called to do; using my own ugly truth to help other women and young ladies.
Growing up in a two-parent Christian home and being raised in the church, I somehow managed to stray away from what I was taught. I found myself struggling with low self-esteem and experiencing feelings of worthlessness, which led to teen pregnancy. Having my first child at age 16, I knew I had greatly disappointed my parents, shattering their expectations. My teen pregnancy was also accompanied by ample feelings of embarrassment, but obviously not enough to keep me from falling into the same predicament again, as a senior in high school. Those feelings of worthlessness left me questioning, “What good guy wants to date someone who already has kids?”
I struggled to raise my babies as a single mom, but I didn’t stay single for long. What looked like a light of hope, was actually the continuation of the “broken relationship saga.” Four children later, and despite the many challenges in my life, I had a gift that was my saving grace. That gift was my voice. My parents recognized the gift at the young tender age of 2 years old, and they invested in a piano. It was only a toy, but a piano is a piano, right? I would bang on the keys of my piano while singing loudly at the top of my lungs. The proof is on the 1973 cassette tape, capturing my father’s voice singing alongside me. Simply priceless!
As you can see, singing has truly been an ongoing part of my life. It has kept me grounded over the years and has been extremely therapeutic at just the right times. My first solo project entitled ALL ABOUT LOVE was a dream come true. Released in February of 2014, this music CD is an exhilarating collection of love songs dedicated to all of the special people in my life and destined to generate, stimulate and rejuvenate the flow of love from heart to heart. It is an honor sharing my gift with others.
As a mother, I’ve had to overcome the stigmas that come along with having a child (in my case “children”) that live a gay lifestyle. This journey inspired me to take my writing to a different level. So I wrote a book (My Children are Gay & They’re Still My Blessing) with the hopes that my testimony will help other mothers who are traveling down the same path. It is my prayer that my message “Love with no limits” will penetrate the hearts and minds of people all over this world. There are many hurting people who don’t feel loved, and in some instances, have no will to live. It is my sincere desire that we simply agree to disagree, for it is very possible to love those who may have different beliefs, opinions, and lifestyles. At the end of the day, love is key!
Determined not to let my own life experiences be in vain, Faith Eyes Inc. (a 501(c)(3) entity) was founded. It gives me great joy to offer programs and services that help pregnant teens, single moms, women facing financial hardships, other mothers with LGBT children, and women struggling with low self-esteem. During the course of my life, it has made a huge difference knowing that I was not alone, that someone else could relate to my struggles, and that someone actually cared. I want to make that same difference in the lives of other young ladies and women, helping them to be victorious!
Has it been a smooth road?
Oops, I think I may have spilled the beans on the previous question, but my answer is no. It has absolutely not been a smooth road. Far from it to be exact. I’ve had to overcome struggles that came with being a pregnant teen, being a single mom, experiencing financial hardships, enduring the heartache of broken relationships, and learning to better understand my children, to love them on a different level, and to learn how to be the mother they’ve needed me to be, while not jeopardizing my own values and beliefs.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Faith Eyes story. Tell us more about the business.
The mission of Faith Eyes Inc is to help meet the spiritual and personal needs of young ladies & women through spiritual support and charity giving. I founded the organization in 2011 and had spent years investing my own money to make a difference. I am proud to announce our recent accomplishment of obtaining 501(c)(3) status. This opened door will allow us to serve many more young ladies and women.
Faith Eyes offers the following programs and services:
• I Am Beautiful Celebration women’s event celebrates the individual uniqueness and inner beauty of young ladies and women of all colors, sizes, ages, backgrounds, and barriers. This incredible celebration provides inspirational/motivational speaking, life coaching, and activities to help identify low self-esteem issues, insecurities, and various complexes and to bravely face the issues at hand, embrace self, and value self-worth. The “Beautiful Award” honors a woman who has a beautiful heart for people and gives unselfishly, despite her own situation.
“Beautiful Makeovers” will empower several deserving women who battle with low self-esteem. (Proceeds will benefit Blessed 2B a Blessing and will help to fund the Faith Eyes Inc. Toddlership Award. This award will assist single moms (employed full-time or in school full-time), who have children in (or waiting to attend) daycare, are approved for CCMS/Child Care Management Services child care assistance, but remain on the waiting list, resulting in 1.] Financial strain 2.] Possible displacement from daycare 3.] Jeopardizing of the mother’s employment/school status.)
• Blessed 2B a Blessing financially blesses five women on Annual International Women’s Day who are able to demonstrate a financial need.
• Happy Bottoms Diaper Drive which will distribute 3,000 diapers to babies born to local teen moms with limited resources. The Diaper drive is held in September during Diaper Need Awareness Week. (Facts provided by the National Diaper Bank Network state that diaper need impacts the physical, mental, and economic well-being of children and parents and although it is a basic need for infants and toddlers, the government provides no direct assistance for diapers.)
• Reclaiming the Rainbow Parent Support Group which provides a safe place for mothers of children who are LGBT to receive emotional and/or spiritual support and resources (e.g. literature, workbooks, seminars, counseling referrals) that aide in the appropriate handling of their emotions, and in the restoration of their damaged/broken family relationships. This group promotes the message of love and the possibility of mothers loving their children and accepting them without having to approve of their alternative lifestyle.
(According to statistics from the Trevor Project, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth who were rejected by their families and caregivers due to their identities were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and more than eight times more likely to have attempted suicide when compared to youth from accepting and affirming families and caregivers.)
I believe what sets us apart are our programs/services like the Reclaiming the Rainbow Parent Support Group and the Toddlership Award, that meet a very unique need in our community.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
I see our team (I call it the Faith Squad) growing and our budget increasing over the next 5-10 years. I would love to see us triple the amount of young ladies and women we are able to serve. Doors are beginning to open with our new tax-exempt status, and we are looking to make new connections.
We are seeking individuals and businesses that would like to partner with us by making monthly or one-time donations to assist us in fulfilling our mission. I’m super excited about what the future has in store!
- Website: www.faitheyes.org
- Phone: (817) 381-6610
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faitheyesincfortworth/
- Other: Paypal.me/FaithEyesInc