Hello, my name is LaShonn Edmunds and I’m so nervous and excited all at the same time because I’m actually going to expose my medical issue to the world. Scary! However, I hope and pray that my story will help somebody else.
I have a chronic disease called Primary Lymphedema-Tarda. Some of you may ask what in the world is that! I know I asked the same thing! To my surprise, most people never heard of it …not even doctors! Talk about scary! In fact, I was misdiagnosed by several doctors for a couple of years because of their lack of knowledge about the disease. Of course, this is not the doctor’s fault because they only receive about one hour’s worth of lymphatic diseases training during their four years in college. Let me explain how the medical community figured it out that I had this disease.
The doctor’s tried to figure out what was wrong with my by testing me for heart diseases, vein issues, gout, diabetes, cancer, thyroids and they could not come up with anything. The doctor’s final prognosis was I’m overweight and I need to watch my salt intake. He prescribed me some fluid pills and sent me on way. Let’s keep in mind I was 24 years old and just had my 3rd child and weighed about 145lbs! So you can imagine how I felt my doctor just told me I was fat!! Even though I am a strong African-American woman those words from my doctor cut like a knife. My thoughts were “I just had a baby a few years ago and I’ve never been a small woman. Come on… is obesity the real answer to my feet swelling! Don’t argue Shonn just Go Get K.I.M! (Keep It Moving!)” The doctor just gave me a life mission “lose weight to reduce the swelling”. In my mind, I’m now on a mission to get fit! Surely this will fix me and I will be healthy again.
Getting fit didn’t work out too well! New baby, work, and marriage…just too much on my plate. My swelling was there but hey I could still wear my shoes so no big deal. Until one day I was outside and got bit by a bug. I kept picking at the scar and my leg got infected! Next thing I know I passed out at work and was rushed to the hospital. Two blood transfusions and two days in the hospital later they advised that I developed cellulitis! What in the world is that! EXACTLY! No real explanation from anyone but was told to follow-up with my doctor that it was just a bad infection.
I tried to follow-up with my doctor but this particular day he did not have any appointments so they sent me to the nurse practitioner. I say she was an angel sent from heaven! My nurse practitioner explained to me what cellulitis was and also asked me a million questions, reviewed my charts and opened a book and said…I figured out what’s wrong with you…. you have LYMPHEDEMA! I was Excited, Thrilled, Relieved! Yes, I got something and you know how to fix it…give me my medicine and send me on my way! Then the excitement quickly stopped as she pronounced my death sentence….” I’m sorry there is NO CURE! ” This is where my story begins……
Now that I’ve received this horrible fate it came with some horrible lifestyle changes. One big one was that I could no longer wear fashionable shoes. I was so distraught because I absolutely love shoes. I work in a corporate environment where wearing casual or dress shoes is a must. At this point the only thing I could wear were shoes two sizes to big or flip flops. I was so embarrassed and depressed until God gave me a vision! He gave me the idea to become an inventor and create shoes cute comfortable shoes for women with swollen feet. I did exactly that and started my company CAIRS Shoes. Our shoes are comfortable Tru-Stretch shoes that will expand out and up. They are cute and fashionable too.
During my journey of inventing CAIRS Shoes I received a lot of help from various mentors within Greenville, South Carolina. Each mentor helped me in various phases of developing my shoes. I am so extremely grateful for each of them because I could not have made it without them. Below is a quick list of a few of them that support me on the journey:
Leadership Development – Sr. Pastor Wendall Jones – Wendell Jones Leadership Institute
Medical Advice – Dr. William Long – Upstate Podiatry
Medical Shoe Expert – Shelly Simmering Esq – Pedorthist
Startup Business Development – Jeanette Brewster – Village Launch
Advance Business Development – Bryan Davis – GVL Starts
As you can see my city and community truly supports my vision. Each mentor gave me some unique experience that elevated my progress to be able to reach my goal of ready to sell shoes. We are excited to announce that we are now in final production and as long as COVID doesn’t slow us up, we will begin selling in March!
South Carolina Charities, Inc. (SCCI), the non-profit foundation of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX, was created to showcase the beauty of Upstate South Carolina and the hospitality of its citizens to the world; to create an event that brings the Upstate a fun and entertaining week centered around professional athletes and world-renowned celebrities; and raise money and awareness for South Carolina charities. Since 2001, the tournament has distributed $14.3 million to charities in the Upstate, part of the PGA TOUR’s $3 billion raised for charity.
Teri Gilstrap, Anderson County Economic Development – ACED helps Anderson County to provide outreach and entice new companies to come to Anderson County or current companies to expand. Main focus is to help with availability of workforce. Of the 5 school districts, there are roughly 2,000 students who are actively looking for work. Currently, they’re helping to put employers in front of students to help them learn and show opportunities and workshops that are available to them. They help students figure out what interests them through workshops or work studies. Over the last 5-6 years, they were able to develop the Development Corporation of Anderson County to engage in community activities that promote and support economic development activities in Anderson County. To learn more, please visit https://www.acedsc.org/ .
Susan Anderson, Anderson Interfaith Ministries – AIM’s mission is to connect people with support, resources, and education to empower themselves to be self-sufficient. 5 programs: Pivotal Support, Hunger ministries, Women & Children’s program, Housing Rehabilitation, and financial stability center program. Through incredible partnerships throughout the upstate, AIM is able to create generational change. They also have an AMERICORP program to help bring 10 individuals into the non-profit world and help those around them. Visit www.aimcharity.org for more information.
Save the Date!
TATT CHAT March 10, 2022 | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Guest Speaker: Walt Lindsley, Site Director and General Manager for the Lockheed Martin Greenville Facility
The Hayes Approach has partnered with Upstate Mobility Alliance (UMA), which is a regional public, private and non-profit partnership following a two-year effort called “Connecting Our Future.” Alliance participants and community partners include transportation organizations in the Upstate, local businesses and community organizations focused on improving mobility and access to transportation choices across the Upstate region.
This regional effort is under the umbrella of Ten at the Top (TATT), a regional organization that works to develop strategic partnerships and enhance the collective capacity across the 10-county Upstate South Carolina region on issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life.
Whom We Seek:
The Upstate Mobility Alliance Director will lead a coalition of organizations and individuals committed to improving mobility options in the Upstate region. The successful candidate will be highly motivated, engaging, and able to build connections with a wide range of stakeholders. The Upstate Mobility Alliance Director is an external facing position but will also have responsibility for program and task force management.
As the lead staff member for the Upstate Mobility Alliance, the Director will have an interest in advancing mobility issues and advocating for public policies and investments that positively impact mobility across the Upstate region. Additional requirements include:
Minimum of five years of experience leading collective impact, coalition, or other similar collaborative community work
Proven track record of consensus building as well as developing and implementing initiatives that address specific objectives
Experience introducing or actively supporting legislative or public policy changes that support mobility initiatives
Experience in public speaking and articulating an organization’s mission and vision
Ability to manage multiple projects or initiatives simultaneously
Knowledge of South Carolina’s Upstate region with specific understanding of mobility and transportation in the region being desired, though not required
Proficiency with computer office suites, such as Microsoft Office or Google Workspace
Experience writing briefings, strategy documents, initiative summaries and related materials
Well organized and detail-oriented
The Upstate Mobility Alliance Director will be a staff member of Ten at the Top and report to the TATT Executive Director. Responsibilities include:
Lead day-to-day operations of the Upstate Mobility Alliance
Work with Alliance Leadership Committee and Task Forces to ensure that goals and strategies are in place and action plans are established and implemented to achieve those goals
Coordinate the efforts of the Alliance Leadership Committee and Task Forces, to include organizing meetings, working with the co-chairs on meeting content, facilitating meetings, and leading follow-up and next steps
Participate in external mobility meetings and serve as the primary spokesperson representing the Upstate Mobility Alliance
Create visible advocacy, representation on behalf of UMA stakeholder groups
Conduct presentations and regular updates on the Upstate Mobility Alliance to interested stakeholders across the Upstate
Develop and implement strategies to increase awareness of and participation in the Upstate Mobility Alliance
Coordinate regional mobility events developed as part of the Upstate Mobility Alliance
Build relationships with key stakeholders within the mobility network across the Upstate
Project management of task force initiatives
Communicate with the Ten at the Top Executive Director and Board of Directors on the progress of the Alliance
Participate in fundraising activities to support the Alliance as needed
Write reports, white papers, summaries, and support material
Provide content for and support the web site and social media platforms
Track projects and policies that will impact mobility in the Upstate
Provide UMA partners and stakeholders with Call-to-Action opportunities when support is needed
Other duties as assigned
The successful Upstate Mobility Alliance Director candidate should be:
An individual who believes in working across jurisdictional and stakeholder boundaries to address issues that impact our region
Eager and able to learn, understand and work on a broad array of issues; reflective, with strong conceptual, critical, and creative thinking abilities
Approachable, knowledgeable, and able to develop meaningful relationships with diverse stakeholders
Comfortable receiving input from many sources and able to analyze and formulate disparate information into a sound, well-organized plan
Professional with a demeanor demonstrating empathy, humility, respect, good judgment, cultural sensitivity and flexibility to represent the Alliance in diverse forums and organizational relationships
Able to serve as both a “leader” and a “doer” in working with the leadership team and task forces to produce results-oriented outcomes
Flexibility to travel across the Upstate and participate in occasional evening meetings and events
Ten at the Top offers a competitive salary and benefits package including a health insurance stipend, paid vacation & holidays and a cell phone stipend. The expected salary range for this position is $80,000-110,000 but will be finalized based on the experience of the selected candidate.
Dr. Gail Wilson Awan CEO, Urban League of the Upstate
This Black History Month we can also celebrate the 50-year legacy of the Urban League of the Upstate, one of the most impactful and innovative Urban League Affiliates in the country. The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The Urban League is the oldest and largest community-based organization of its kind and in the nation. In 1970, a small group of citizens from Greenville met in the basement of the Springfield Baptist Church with one goal in mind. To create a community-based organization committee to the principle of equal opportunity for all citizens in housing, education, employment and economic development without regard to race or socioeconomic status.
In 1972, The National Urban League Executive Director, Vernon E. Jordan came to Greenville to meet with community representatives who chartered the new Greenville League; the Urban League received its charter from the National Urban League. In 1997, understanding the needs of the Upstate Region, the name was changed to reflect the population served by the Urban League of the Upstate. Today, more than ever before, we believe firmly in our everyday commitment to our mission and vision through focus on our purpose and Call to Action. The Urban League model of excellence shines through where each day many determined working men and women, scholars, entrepreneurs, homeowners, and advocates participate in a diverse array of classes and resources to meet their goals including college preparatory workshops, mentoring activities, parental enrichment activities, job readiness skills, foreclosure prevention and health screenings.
We are thrilled to partner with Ten at the Top and share the vision of collaboration, coordination and cooperation. We are truly stronger together. On February 17th, 2022 the Urban League of the Upstate will celebrate our 50 years of service at our Golden Jubilee Gala. This event is an evening designed to recognize individuals and companies that support the work of the ULUS. Together with our partners we will celebrate our achievements to educate and empower the Black and underserved individuals throughout the regions while supporting our commitment to provide education, housing, and workforce development. The gala celebrates the significant accomplishments of local leaders and organizations who embody the agency’s mission to advance equity by empowering the Black community and underserved individuals. This event raises funds to support our empowerment programs that focus on quality education, affordable, safe, and quality housing, job training and an equitable law and justice system.
For more information about the organization and the Whitney M. Young Jr. 50th Anniversary, Golden Jubilee, please visit our website urbanleagueupstate.org By Dr. Gail Wilson Awan, President, Urban League of the Upstate.