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Turning the Tide: Taking Back Our Health & Our Wealth

Turning The Tide: A Health and Wealth Summit sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Upsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter in Baltimore County, was an event full of knowledge and tips on how to take ownership of your health and wealth. The coordinators selected keynote speakers that fed the hearts and minds of their participants.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Kendra Brown, the President of the Upsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter. She shared, this year, their purpose was to educate the community by increasing their health awareness, and economic advancement during these unprecedented times, in addition to keeping the community informed and provide necessary tools. This topic is near and dear to the Sorority, because of the health disparities that are happening in Baltimore County. The goal is to inspire the community to start, and keep going with healthy living; both physically, and financially to pass down to our future generations. Taking small steps that our future selves will thank us for. This event provided something for everyone.

The first panelist was Dr. Gregory Branch, Director of Health and Human Services and Health Officer for Baltimore County. He reminds us that our health is our wealth. We must do our part in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by following the three W’s; Wear your mask, Watch your distance, and Wash your hands.

Baltimore County began tracking Covid-19 in December 2019. This pandemic has disproportionately affected the African American community. The African American community represents 13% of the Baltimore County population, but has accounted for more than a half percent of the people that have succumbed to Covid-19. Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Maryland Partnership for Prevention and Maryland Department of Health to provide special care kits for vulnerable communities that were hit hardest. The 100,000 provided safety kits included Covid-19 education, gloves, hand sanitizer, masks, and soap by December 2020. In July 2020, they not only met, but exceeded that goal. As of today, the department has provided 150,000 to its county constituents. Due to their proactive stance on protecting their communities, they were the first jurisdiction to relocate the homeless population from shelters to hotels and alternative locations.

The first reported case of Covid-19 in Baltimore County was in March 2020. Since then, there have been 18,213 cases and 609 deaths. Currently, there are no vaccines or verifiable treatments for Covid-19. Currently, the county has Covid-19 testing sites that are readily available, accessible, convenient, FREE, and open five days a week throughout the county. Visit BALTIMORECOUNTYMD.GOV to find a site.

In sum, Dr. Branch encouraged attendees to rethink the ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays, "if you are not feeling well, stay home, remember the three W’s." He left us with an assignment to complete... "Get your flu shots."

Principal and CEO, Financial Advisor Mr. Shawn Hart, of Hart Wealth Strategies, LLC then shared nuggets of wisdom on how we can all do our part in closing the wealth gap. If we do nothing, it will take about 228 years to close that gap. If we follow the four P’s, we can work together to close the gap sooner:

· Protect our biggest asset; which is us. As the breadwinner, it is our responsibility to ensure that if something were to happen to us, that our family can live the same lifestyle. We must protect what we earn, own and those we love. There is no "one size fits all." Do what works best for you and your family.

· Plan. We plan for vacations more than we do for our financial life. A vacation lasts one week on average, where retirement is 34-to-40 years. We must plan for major purchases, emergencies, rising taxes and inflation. The average African American does not have $1000 that is not accounted for; we can change this with discipline. Just as we pay our monthly bills, we must pay ourselves, even if it is $10 a month. Reallocate funds... do not spend them. Write down your budget so you know what your spending.

· Prioritize our goals. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Diversify your risk. Investing in three different investment companies that are doing the same thing is not diversifying. Having different strategies is. Invest, and save what you feel comfortable with. People with different numbers may have different outcomes; but the disciplines, and principles are all the same. Maximize your 401k/501(3)b; if your employer is matching at four percent, then your minimum investment should be four percent.

· Pass on your assets. If 15 million African American people purchased a life insurance policy for one million dollars, that $1.5 billion will make an economic impact which goes back to our communities. We must be financially savvy by understanding money talk, taxes, how business operates, and investing. We must teach our loved ones to do the same. We must set our next generations up for more wealth by modeling fiscal fitness.

The breakout sessions included Mrs. Marian Saunders White, and Ms. Regan Farley speaking on "Black Business: Surviving and Thriving during and post Covid-19." Mrs. Andrea Brown speaking on Emotional Well-Being During Covid-19, and Dr. Lisa Cooper speaking on "Two Pandemics: Racism and Covid-19."

I truly encourage you to go and watch the replay of this magnificent day; It is something that we all need in this time:

The Upsilon Epsilon Omega Chapter lists upcoming events on their social media platforms, so stay in the know on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

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