Building Our Lives Together As One Founder & Executive Director
Lakesha Mai-Ling Allen
Our founder Lakesha Mai-Ling Allen is a patron of the arts, she is a firm believer that deep in the bowels of inner cities across America there are tons of gifted children with a plethora of talents. Regretfully however, these children’s talents are quelled due to the many social disparities and inequities and personal issues they encounter daily. Many of the children are living with grandparents or relatives due to their parent(s) being incarcerated/deceased and/or are simply from low income families. Because of such, their talents have been underdeveloped and their issues undiagnosed. Lakesha identifies with this inequality because she was once a child. She grew up in poverty in the city of Brockton, where she witnessed violence, crime, and substance abuse, not only in the community, but in her own family as well. She unfortunately not only had to witness these traumatic events but she herself is a survivor of many forms of child abuse. At the age of 7, after going in and out of different foster homes Allen was eventually moved into her grandmother’s house due to her mother’s inability of being a parent. She has attended funerals for friends who were way too young to die. She never had anyone she could identify as a role model or father, and no one to talk to about her confusion and pain. All these constant incidents carved an indelible impression in Lakesha’s young mind.
She however still managed to find solace in attending school and a summer event called “Sport-A-Rama”. Subsequently she became a target for the predators that roamed the streets and fell victim to the many social ills that plague under-served communities. She became a teenage mother and life’s necessities became more demanding. As a teen mother she served time in a prison, making her realize that if she didn't change her ways fast that she would also be a part of the constant ongoing broken cycle.
After years of therapy, a lot of self care, and a spiritual awakening, Lakesha was able to turn her life around. Decades later Allen is still surrounded by the disparities and inequities that hinder communities from improving their quality of life. Because of her personal experiences and the harsh realities of her community, Allen created a non profit organization, Building Our Lives Together As One Org. with the primary project being FocusOnEmpathy - a free program for today’s underserved young people ages 7 to 24.
After thorough research of the Greater Boston area; primarily the inner-city (Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan), the founder recognized the enormous void of programs where Empathy is the primary focus along within the arts, that implemented a focus on mentors and counselors. The founder wholeheartedly believes that teaching empathy and applying art can be used to combat the social ills and mental indispositions that force young people to live an urban nightmare. Allen developed FocusOnEmpathy Project as an intentional plan to be an alternative to violence, drugs, crime, gangs, bullying, and suicide for young people in her community.
She believes by teaching our children forms of empathy that they will have a deeper understanding for self and others. Also if they are allowed to explore their talents, coupled with a safe place to confront their fears and harsh realities via counseling, group therapy, and advocacy, they will stand a better chance to become critical thinkers and functioning citizens. FocusOnEmpathy is fashioned to empower young people, to equip them with the tools to assure them that their well-being is important, their peers are important too, that they are not alone, and that their dreams can come true.
RECENT CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION
Alternatives To Violence Apprentice Facilitator Training Jan. 2020 Alternatives to Violence Project
Alternatives To Violence Advanced Training Dec. 2020 Alternatives to Violence Project
Alternatives To Violence Basic Training Nov. 2020 Alternatives to Violence Project
Introduction to Nurturing Fathers Program Philosophy and Facilitation Feb. 2020 Family Nurturing Center
Trauma Informed Training Feb. 2020 International Trauma Center
Wellness Coaching Powerful Skills for Everyday People March 2019 Institute for Wellness Education
Harm Reduction March 2019 National Health Care for the Homeless Council
Fire Safety March 2019 Safety Skills Work Smarter
Parenting Journey 2 Dec. 2018 Boston Suffolk Family Resource Center
Parenting Journey 1 June 2018 Boston Suffolk Family Resource Center
Health and Wellness 2018 Mothers For Justice and Equality
Financial Literacy 2018 Mothers For Justice and Equality
You Matter Personal Development and Leadership Training 2018 Mothers For Justice and Equality
National Parent Leadership Institute June 2018 Chelsea Neighborhood Development
Active Parenting of Teens May 2018 Boston Suffolk Family Resource Center
Parent Essentials April 2018 Boston Public School Office of Engagement
Parent-Child Math Cooking Club April 2018 Boston Public School Parent University
Public Policy Training Feb. 2018 Rosie's Place
Nurturing Parenting Feb. 2018 Rosie's Place
Anger Management Group Feb. 2018 Rosie’s Place
Choices (Steps Toward Health) Feb. 2018 UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program
Introduction to Restorative Justice and Circle Training Feb. 2018 Suffolk University Boston Center for Restorative Justice