Love Yourself - Black History

“Love Yourself” – YWCA-SGV Celebrates Black History Month

by Jeanette Miura

Residents representing the diverse communities within the San Gabriel Valley helped the YWCA of San Gabriel Valley celebrate Black History Month with a special event called “Love Yourself” on Saturday, February 11th at YWCA-SGV headquarters in West Covina. Foothill Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (DST) partnered with YWCA-SGV to explore self-care: How do we love ourselves? Express ourselves? What positive affirmations do we use?

“Engaging in self-care is an act of justice,” explained Jonathan Wicks, Equity and Social Change Specialist, YWCA-SGV. “Self-care is a great tool for anyone seeking ways to heal and transcend racial and social injustice. As Black History Month continues, we are reminded of the struggles of the African American community. Taking time for self-care is a way to honor all the melanated ancestors who were forced to work day and night.”

The event commenced with welcoming remarks followed by a vocalist who sang Lift Your Voice & Sing, and guitarist Gerald Brown accompanied. Attendees strolled through community resource booths featuring different self-care activities. Some created positive affirmations scripts, while others created vision boards. Painting canvases and supplies were also available for those wishing to express themselves through art. This unique, uplifting event had something for everyone, including an upbeat and engaging African performance by Umoja Ensemble of the Inland Empire of San Bernardino County with drummers, dancers, a stilt walker, and a glass walking fire dancer.

Wicks and his colleague Sophia Rodriguez, Director of Clinical Operations, YWCA-SGV, led a 3 part self-care workshop. Part 1 focused on Self-Regulation and allowed participants to discuss the differences between Self-Care (i.e. the general ongoing care and intentional activity to stay balanced) and Coping Skills (i.e. the strategies for immediate relief from a specific situation). Part 2 was focused on The Whole-Self, exploring the Biological Self, Psychological Self, Social Self, Spiritual Self, and Cultural Self. The discussion engaged participants by pulling out best practices for self-care as it relates to each layer of The Whole-Self. Lastly, Part 3 was focused on discussing various resources for behavioral and mental health. Several hotline numbers were shared including YWCA-SGV services, (i.e, WINGS Domestic Violence 24-hour Crisis Helpline, and Senior Services & Meal Delivery Program’s 24-hour Message Line), the National Sexual Assault Hotline, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Los Angeles County Mental Health Access Line, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Overall, this intentional, empowering event was enjoyable, educational, and extremely well received by the community. YWCA-SGV is committed to holding space for people to come together and explore themes of social justice and equity. “Community means that we can learn from each other, lean on one another, celebrate together, and grieve together. This community event celebrated Black History Month, and we need to ensure that Black and African-American voices are heard and understood,” concluded Lily Tran, MPH, CHES, Community Engagement and Health Education Specialist, YWCA-SGV.


Makeda Kumasi (in yellow) from the Umoja Ensemble of the Inland Empire dancing with her amazing team.


Silt walker from the Umoja Ensemble of the Inland Empire.


Participants joining Set for Life booth for a painting activity.


Makeda Kumasi (middle) from Umoja Ensemble of the Inland Empire teaching participants how to play the drums.


Part of the YWCA-SGV staff.
Pictured top left to right: Lily Tran, Community Engagement & Health Education Specialist, Debra Ward, CEO, Christie Valenzuela, Healthy Aging Program Manager, Sophia Rodriguez, Director of Clinical Operations.
Bottom left to right: Angelica Avalos (Home Delivery Meal Driver) and Lauren Alvarez (Child Advocate at the WINGS Shelter)