Today we’d like to introduce you to Flora Isom-Marion.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Flora. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Born and raised in the small rural community of Holly Springs, MS, I discovered my love for mentoring girls younger than me when I was just 13 years old. In the midst of me struggling with low self-esteem and insecurities myself, I had teachers throughout my grade school years who believed in me. I was asked by a mentor, Mrs. Lolar Beard if I would like to coach a community cheerleader/dance team.
From the years of 1993 – 2003, I was more than a dance coach. I developed a bond with each one of my cheerleaders. We were not just a dance team, but we were a family. We often met to perform various service activities to uplift our community and the less fortunate over the years. We won and lost competitions together. We also celebrated life successes together and still do the same until today. This journey in my life helped me realize how much I matter to those young ladies. I was their mentor, friend, and sister. Most of all, they loved me, and I loved them.
After graduating from high school as an honor student at the top of my class, I was too excited to attend college with the goal of being the first in my family to graduate. Throughout my college years, it was not easy. It was a struggle trying to succeed while not having the foundation of being exposed to the knowledge and core fundamentals as other students in my classes. I would get in class being clueless about some topics when others would tell me that they have already learned about the concepts while in high school.
At the same time, I was battling verbal abuse from a bad relationship that almost cost me my life to suicide. I prayed a lot, studied my Bible, and consistently persevered to get the knowledge I needed to graduate. This was the absolute only way that I overcame those obstacles. In December of 2003, I graduated with a 3.17 from the University of Memphis. After graduating college with a BBA in Management Information Systems, having my own beautiful daughter in 2008, getting married in 2010 and obtaining an MBA in 2014, my desire to inspire and motivate young girls in my community greatly intensified. I was determined that no young lady in my path would suffer as I did. I was now a mom and leader in the eyes of my own daughter, which inspired me to let her tag along as I worked diligently in our small community to inspire young girls.
While currently working a full-time job, being a full-time mother and wife, I proudly own and operate Enhancements Makeup & Beauty (www.enhancementsMBL.com). Through our brand, we travel all over enhancing, empowering, and inspiring women to look and feel beautiful while walking in confidence. My daughter Gabrielle often goes on appointments with me as my assistant. In addition, she often accompanies me as we serve after hours and give back to the community. Serving in a different capacity, it was an honor and a great passion of mine to have the opportunity to build and execute a strategy that transformed the brand of Holly Springs Tourism and Recreational Bureau on the Board of Directors as the Board Chair. A passion that led to many successes for my hometown of Holly Springs! Gabbi would often go to meetings with me to listen and learn corporate structure.
On December 23, 2015, a violent EF4 struck our town. Two people were killed, and many homes were destroyed. Multiple people were killed on the outskirts of our community as well. Gabbi woke up packing her clothes in trash bags. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me that she wanted to help the little girls whose homes were hit by the tornado. As tears rolled down my face, I packed up my clothes as well, and we drove to the community center and served for hours. We helped people pack up their cars with donations, sorted clothes, comforted those who came in with sadness because of losing everything, and served food for hours.
From then until now, we tag-teamed to support other events in the community assisting with building it back up after this terrible storm. Gabbi wanted to do something more. On June 2, 2018, we hosted our “Be Beautiful Be You Girls Empowerment Day Camp” (www.bebeautifulcamp.com). Over 53 ladies signed up to attend online within three days. We had to close the registration because we did not have enough funds to feed more young ladies or enough t-shirts and backpacks for each attendee to take home.
During the month of December 2018, Gabbi and I were talking about the camp, what we learned from it, how to improve the next one, and if we wanted to do it the following year. We did not sponsor the camp in 2019 in order to approach it differently and make it better in 2020. Gabbi has shared so many wonderful ideas from having a scholarship pageant to starting food pantries and donating coats to children in the winter months. She wanted to start her own organization with the colors of pink and purple. She told me how she wanted to help girls all over the nation grow up to be leaders who are not afraid to make our world better. This passion birthed The Gabbi Foundation. In January 2019, The Gabbi Foundation, Inc. became a reality!
The Gabbi Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering all girls to be leaders who make real positive social change happen in society. I am sure that I will get to tell you more about our organization a little later.
In conclusion, my life has been inspired by women leaders all around me showing me that I can be whatever I desire as long as I put God first and work hard. Often struggling with having confidence and low self-esteem, being looked over for jobs and other opportunities because of being told I was not the best fit, and being from a rural community that lacks the strong school system and opportunities as other areas, I did not give up. I am an overcomer! In the words of Kobe Bryant, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
Neither of my parents were college graduates, but they worked hard to ensure that I would have an opportunity to attend college and go far. I live by my favorite scripture Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” God kept me! I am an overcomer! I was and am still determined to be a servant leader of love, intelligence, and humility raising my daughter to be the same with a genuine heart who impacts positive change while uplifting and inspiring young girls all over this nation.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our road to establishing and sustaining the Gabbi Foundation has not been an easy road. We struggled to get our funding development strategy off the ground and still have yet to obtain repeat donors. Bringing awareness to our organization and what we do has been a challenge because no one knows who we are. We are doing everything we can to bring about the awareness and importance of healthy development for young girls while also showing how we are here to help. One of our biggest challenges is opening our first brick and mortar center for girls and office. We have limited funding; however, we will continue to strive and work diligently to obtain the needed funding for the success of our mission.
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
The Gabbi Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering all girls to be leaders who make real positive social change happen in society. Through our various educational development programs and activities, life skills coaching, mentoring, and healthy lifestyle management instructions, we equip girls with the tools needed to be exceptional leaders while building confidence and healthy relationships. Through our partnerships with schools and community leaders, we are advocates for girls while teaching them to be healthy, confident, independent, risk-takers of value.
We strive to empower girls to be enthusiastic about leadership and active citizens in their communities and the world. It is our mission to inspire and instill values that will make a positive and lasting impact on the future of young girls while influencing the development of leaders of confidence, integrity, humility, and beauty. Our vision is empowered girls who become exceptional women leaders that create lasting positive social changes in small communities and the world.
We are most proud of our ability to inspire young girls to love and help other girls. So many times we have young ladies who are curious to know more about us and how they can be a part of the organization. Once they put on one of our t-shirts and become a Gabbi Girl, they are so motivated to help not knowing that they will be the ones to receive a gift that is far beyond anything they will ever be able to imagine. That is what sets us apart from any other organization of service.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I give all praises to God for the successes in my life and the Gabbi Foundation. Without His love, mercy, and grace, nothing would be possible that has transpired. My husband Garon is there every day taking care of our family while also supporting, believing, and working in any capacity to support the success of the Gabbi Foundation. My daughter Gabbi is the mastermind behind many of the ideas to help girls. I am so thankful for her love, humble spirit, and determination to work hard as a student and daughter with the passion to love and support other girls.
My parents, two sisters Ashley and Nakeithra, one and only niece Hannah, uncles, aunts and cousins have all been advocates and cheerleaders believing in me as well as the vision of the Gabbi Foundation. They have been right there encouraging me throughout my life at every stage. For everything that we work towards executing with the Gabbi Foundation, they always show up with their shirts ready to work and serve.
The Gabbi Foundation would cease to exist without our faithful board of directors, who are composed of mentors, community leaders, and advocates all believing and planning in unity for the healthy development of all girls everywhere. None of this would be possible without their determination and willingness to give in every capacity to the success and future of our organization. For this, I love each and every one and am exceptionally grateful and blessed.
- Website: www.thegabbifoundation.org
- Phone: 662-278-0806
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thegabbifoundation
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegabbifoundation
Headshot: Images by Alex
Girls Camp Shot: Dellguan Coleman