Kel wk desk
By: Kelly Ragin, Freelance and Feature Writer
March 11, 2017


It’s such an honor to give homage to ALL WOMEN in recognition of International Women’s Month. 

Hey ladieeees….  We Rock, Grind, Slay and definitely …we PRAY!

In this God-given role as Wo-Man, I’ve found life to be quite interesting. And quite challenging too at times. However, one thing I’ve learned about me as a woman, is that I’m especially resilient. Something you don’t find out, until you’re forced to…find out!   As I reflect over my life, I’ve pretty much, darn near mastered resilience.  Funny thing is, it feels like I was wired all along to bounce back anyway. It was nothing I read, or instructed to do.  I just did.


The overall blessing is, being present to have seen and witnessed so many other women overcome some of the worst challenges in their lives.  From my beautiful grandmothers, to my Mother, Aunts, family, friends and co-workers and even strangers on those TV talk shows.

The “Queen Bee”….

This month we honor a very special Grandmother!
Mrs. Vera Bell Nix, The “Queen Bee”….

When I think of my grandmother, I think of the term, “queen bee”.  For me, that is who she is and who she will always “bee”.  Vera Bell Nix. Born with grace and beauty!  My family is quite fortunate.  May, 2010 will mark the year and time when this magnificently blessed woman transitioned to paradise. The queen graced us with many years of her beautiful presence.  I pray we can all have long-life and make our mark in the universe as she has done for us.

In writing this article, it gave me great pleasure in reminiscing over my childhood years. Grandmamma, as I affectionately call her, did NOT play!  So many things come to mind when I reflect.  Things like, knowing “she’d better only call your name once”, or “make sure you don’t let that door slam”, or “don’t come back in here until the sun has gone down!”  Those were the younger years; a place where I am sure many could relate to those “commandments”.  However, I am so grateful to have had the guidance of a true lady.  We do not see that often these days.  As I grew older, my grandmother became a tremendously strong influence in my life.  I take nothing away from my mother, because as the saying goes, “Fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  There is nothing like a mother’s love….and when you add and stir in Grandma’s love—it makes for an even sweeter recipe.  I do not think I have enough space to write about my affection for our “sweetie pie”. 


kelly  work

By: Kelly Ragin, Freelance and Feature Writer
March 10, 2017

BELIEVE.   This is one of my favorite words. Throughout my home, you are bound to see it in almost every room in some shape, fashion or form.  Why is it that this particular word is so powerful?  Ever since I was a little girl, this word has dangled in my face.  I recall my mother purchasing wall art for my bedroom, in the form of words.  She placed these words on my wall, just above my bed.  The words that I vividly remember…some 40 years later are, DREAM, BELIEVE, ACHIEVE.  Now as a 7 year old, I had no real concept to what the true definition was for each of those words.  Today, the term is called AFFIRMATIONS.  

MSM and HIV AWARENESS...“More than just perspective”



By: Kelly Ragin
Freelance and Feature Writer

Long gone are the days where HIV and AIDS is not a taboo subject anymore.  Nor is it a household discussion as much—partly because folks are more informed.  However, it has NOT gone away.  On a brighter note, there are better and more effective treatments on the rise.  One of today’s concerns is that there is still controversy on the stats. I’ve read from reliable sources where reasons listed for increases in infections vary a great deal. Some reasons shared with me are, 1) lack of funding for HIV prevention trainings 2) racism and 3) poverty…just to name a few.  No matter the reason. Every human being deserves respect, equitable medical care, and some good ole’ fashion L-O-V-E; despite your views, upbringing, standards, or convictions.  I have a strong faith. And I will always shout to the world that GOD IS LOVE! 

Breast Cancer Survivor: Tonya Harris

By:  Erin S. Martin

Ms. Tonya Harris' Story
Being Present in The Journey”

One of the most beautiful things about a journey, is thinking back and remembering it all. The strong women who defeat breast cancer come out of their journeys as warriors with moving stories.

Tonya Harris, 38 at the time, describes her finding out about having breast cancer. She was laying in the bed one night doing a self- examination, and felt a small lump the size of a dime. All of a sudden, she found herself in pain so she immediately called her general practitioner. Knowing that she got a full body scan every year, she found it odd and went to the doctor. By the time Tonya got to the doctor, the small lump that she initially discovered grew to the size of a golf ball. She was then referred to a general surgeon for a biopsy who told her that her bump was cancerous.

“At the time I had a meeting scheduled; my mind was in another place. I had just gotten promoted to an executive position.”  Tonya recalls going to work right after finding out about her status and telling her coworkers. Tonya was not only in a state of shock, but worried about how she would tell her two children.  Out of all of the things she told her children, the most important was, “We’ll be victorious.”

Breast Cancer Survivor: M. Peppers

By:  Kelly Ragin

breastcancer 01


Breast Cancer. NO!!  No More!  These are the sentiments of so many women who are battling breast cancer.  This epidemic has been going on for so long that it almost feels like we’re supposed to just accept it.  Thank goodness. WE DO NOT.

Countless women and men have suffered at the hand of this non-discriminatory disease.  About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, and daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.  In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer.

Diabetes and Blindness – What are the Connections?


Contributing Source:  Dr. Jason Blowe, OD
Feature Writer:  Kelly Ragin


3153 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 201
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
Phone: 770-682-6525

Did you know that in some cases, Diabetes could cause blindness?  This  condition is called Retinopathy.  Also referred to as Diabetes Blindness.  Diabetes is a very serious disease all by itself.  However, when not properly treated it could lead to various debilitating medical and health issues.  Blindness is one of them. A very serious matter, indeed.

In the African American community, Diabetes is ranked very high on the medical charts.  However, so many African American families disregard the severity of the effects of this horrible disease.  

What Do We Really Know About Hep C?

[All Sources and References from CDC.Gov, PubMed and]

By Kelly Y. Ragin

W e’re constantly hearing about Hep C in the news or on the radio. But do we really know what it is? Do you know how serious this virus can affect the human body?  Did you know that it affects African Americans in large numbers?  And, do you know what can be done about it?  Regardless of race or ethnicity, CDC recommends anyone who was born from 1945-1965 get tested for Hepatitis C. People born from 1945 to 1965 or baby boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C.  Unfortunately, African Americans born during these years have twice the rates as other baby boomers.   Unfortunately, too few people get this simple blood test.  If detected early, new treatments are available that can cure this disease!  If a person is not a baby boomer, but may be at risk for Hepatitis C, they should talk to their doctor or take CDC’s viral hepatitis risk assessment.

Currently, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, but the good news is that new treatments are available that can offer a cure for many people. 

“When Passion Meets Purpose”

kelly01“The Journey is Your Reward”.  

A favorite quote for Ms. Kelly Y. Ragin, who resides in Atlanta, Georgia; Mother of 2 adult daughters, Public Health Analyst, business woman, Founder and Director of Special Empowerment Events. She stands by her journey. Declaring that it’s what has shaped her life today.  

In 2014, Kelly was diagnosed with a congenital health issue concerning her bile duct.  The medical term is Cholangiocarcinoma. A constant throbbing pain on the right side of her abdomen forced her to see the doctor sooner, rather than later.  After a series of test, it was discovered that a tumor had developed and enlarged her bile duct to increase by 4 times the normal size, YES! This caused great pain, concern and a series of questions like, was it something I ate?  Did I inherit this horrible gene? Is there something that I could have done to prevent it?  Do I have Cancer?  Well, turns out that it was benign and that it could be removed but would take quite an extensive and invasive surgery.  Studies have shown that when it comes to health concerns, women usually carry a boat load.  And more often times, will ignore warning signs.  Why?  LIFE. 


rochelle rivers newsROCHELLE RIVERS, MA
Discovering Your Transitional Life Coaching, LLC
Atlanta (Lawrenceville), GA

I started trying to figure out my life’s journey by asking myself the hard questions and searching within for the answers as I’ve always believed that what we seek lies within.  I would then wait for God and the universe to respond and while waiting I would journal.  The answers started to come.  They would come from the most atypical places, but they came and I embraced what I was learning about myself.  Some things were very difficult to face, and some things much easier to reconcile with, but it was all me, and I wanted to know me.  I was “discovering” a Rochelle, that I hadn’t been acquainted with until now and I was definitely “liking” her.  As ever evolving beings, not all things are easily worked out, some require time, but we’re all a perpetual work in progress.  Because I recognize that, when I’m confronted with things about myself that are new to me, I don’t immediately reject them as false, I, again, search within, seeking God and the universe to confirm or deny what has been presented to me.  I was then faced with some hard decisions to make about my life.  Do I stay in an unhealthy marriage, continuing to negatively impact my self-esteem as well as other aspects of my life?  Do I remain unfulfilled in a job that gave no indication of changing?  The answer to both questions, NO!  As soon as the opportunity to leave my marriage present itself I took the leap, not knowing what the next step would be.


marciaplopezMarcia “Phoebe” Lopez
Atlanta (Lithonia), Georgia


Words that truly made a difference in Marcia “Phoebe” Lopez’s life. Born in the beautiful Island of Jamaica, Marcia believes she was destined to become an entrepreneur.  She recalls, as a little girl, how she would set up fruit stands, the same fashion as a lemonade stand. Reminiscing on how beautiful her home country is, and how plentiful the fruit trees are, Marcia tells the story of when her mother would go to the country-side to handle business, but would always bring back tons of fruits. This was the beginning of the little Miss Marcia becoming her own boss.  At age 12, Marcia migrated to Kansas City, Missouri to be with her uncle, Dr. Granville Clark. After graduating from high school, she furthered her education and went on to become a certified x-ray technologist. Ultimately, she finished her studies, got married, moved to Atlanta to start a family. Marcia is a very proud mother of two successful young adults.

After 4 years of marriage, her husband passed leaving her with a young son (Melvin Hampton Watson III). Needless to say, this was a life changer!.Then there was a brother whose name was Phoebe', pronounced Feebe, who left Jamaica to join Marcia in Kansas City. Unfortunately he passed away, which was another major blow to Marcia, as she was extremely close to her brother. Marcia became more community conscious and volunteered for The Andrew Young’s Campaign Team for Mayor of Atlanta. Marcia still continued working at the hospital during this time, but says she had lost her passion for being a technologist. She knew all along she always wanted to establish her own business.


vontonese jones newsVontinese Johnson
Atlanta (Lilburn), Georgia

Ms. Vontinese Johnson, (also known as Von) hails from Merritt Island, Florida. She is the owner of the OMG Salon located just outside of Stone Mountain, Georgia in the city of Lilburn. Von is a woman of God, and is extremely family oriented. She’s the mother of 3 adult children; 2 sons and a daughter, and is super proud of her 4 grands.

Hair was not the business of this business woman’s initial dream. She recalls that as a young girl, growing up in the salon was all she knew. Her mother owned 2 salons in Florida.  Naturally, she had no choice. Through the years, she watched her mother as a stylist.  Learned the business and soon thereafter, in 1992, she made a decision to attend Beauty College.  She learned the dynamics and fundamentals of doing hair and brilliantly came into her own. However, fate would garner something different. Von’s mother fell ill.  In 1997, she lost her mother due to Cancer. This life changing moment, certainly changed her life.

It didn’t take long for Von’s passion for hair to escalate.  She says that working in the salon gave her a sense of peace in her mother’s absence. By 1998, fresh out of “hair school”, she opened the doors to her first salon.  By 2002, she and her family transitioned from Florida to the Atlanta area.