Today we’d like to introduce you to Chantel Vaultz.
Chantel, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The evolution of SistahsREAD as a book club is completely rooted in the main tenets of sisterhood. When you consider this notion, all the main components were there:
1. A bond or relationship- my best friend and I were roommates at the time and without cable to distract us. In order to entertain ourselves, we began swapping books from one anothers bookshelves.
2. A sense of kinship or closeness- once we finished a book (or sometimes even before) we would share what revelations or big feelings we encountered while reading. We would laugh or gripe or simply reflect on what we learned and what had shifted within us. It became an almost therapeutic experience that we knew we would be remiss not to share.
3. A community of women linked by common interest- once we realized this act of reading, reflecting, and sharing was transformative, we knew we could not keep it to ourselves, we had to share this experience with other women.
This is how SistahsREAD was born. What happened next was much more organic than one would imagine. Each of us invited two friends, and we grew from there. It’s awesome to realize that what started in a Long Beach, Ca apartment over a decade ago has now enhanced the lives of black women across the country.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Life will always present challenges, I think that’s a part of the beauty of it all. We encounter challenges and grow stronger when we overcome them. There are times when members decide to step away from the club because different life events occur like grad school or business ventures or babies or cross country moves, and it’s difficult to watch a member leave. It’s also difficult for that member to be disconnected from the group. But we have truly found beauty in the realization that we can still support our sister from afar, we can assist her in creating a similar club and community where she is, and we can also welcome another Sistah into the club and offer her the opportunity to experience its benefits in our Sistah-friends stead. In fact, it is such a joyous occasion when our sistahs return after a season of hiatus and we are gifted with the opportunity to celebrate all they have accomplished while they were away. So in essence, our struggles have made all of us stronger!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
This book club differs from most others in our intention. As black women and women of the African Diaspora, we are of one of the most marginalized groups. In that, we were intentional in the creation of a space where black women are of the majority and the priority of our existence. We read books by or about the experience of those who are of the African Diaspora. We discuss our trials, our wins, our eccentricities, our vices, and we bask in the excellence that is the culmination of our wholeness. I truly believe who and how we are has lended us a space where celebrities and authors have been open to visiting with us, communing with us, and being a part of our meetings and our lives. We have hosted Tina Lifford author and actress as well as Isaiah Washington, author, philanthropist, and actor. We have also hosted award-winning and critically acclaimed authors such as: Sara Collins and Jamel Brinkley.
Additionally, in efforts to encourage community uplift and provide support to those in need, we have raised funds to support community organizations and schools. We have raised money for Isaiah Washington’s nonprofit The Gondobay Manga Foundation and for several years, we have organized a program entitled BooksGiving where we donate books to a class or organization based off specific books the students have listed that are of interest to them. We recognize that often our young people do not read, not because they lack interest, but moreover because they may lack the resources and access to the books they want to read. In 2019, prior to the covid pandemic, we collected and donated over 200 books!
Sistahs R.E.A.D. is a space where we welcome and encourage vulnerability, we inspire one another to grow, we push past our comfort zones, and we relish in all the complex simplicities of who and how we are. I will always be proud of who we are for one another and what we represent to those who will come after us.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I think at the core of all things SistahsREAD is a sense of community and care. We care for and support one another, we care for and support the authors, we care for and support our community. I think that is the integral ingredient in our success.
When I think of the SistahsREAD Starter Guide, I remember intentionally creating this as a tool to help others. I truly wanted other women to be able to replicate what we have done in order to have access to this same kind of community care that we find so valuable.
- SistahsREAD Starter Guide $25
- Book Club Convo Cards $15
- Website: https://linktr.ee/sistahsread
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/sistahs_read?utm_medium=copy_link