Penny Lane Celebrates Black History and Gratitude in the Month of February

March 3, 2024

Celebrating Black History and Gratitude

It has been a busy month at Penny Lane!  This busy is not one that creates stress or overwhelm, but it is a busy that allows us to connect, recognize and celebrate.  February 2024 found us celebrating Black History as well as our own month of Gratitude and Unity.  Both ended up creating a festive feel in which we could honor our history and be appreciative of the work we all do.  

In honor of Black History, we shared resources in the form of books, movies and soul stirring art.  We made it fun to learn as staff was challenged with guessing the clues to complete a crossword puzzle.  Did you know that Misty Copeland became the very first African American primary dancer for the American Ballet theater?  Well, if you completed the crossword puzzle you found that out.  

On Friday, 2/16 we held office hours, which featured the book Race Cars.  The book was a launching point for more discussion around race and equity.  To add to the fun of the event, names were entered, and the wheel was spun and congrats to Julia Craciun, Nishmeth Vargas and Claudia Ramos who all won a copy of Race Cars!

Black History continued as we spotlighted our very own staff.  The acknowledgement of African Americans does not always have to focus on the notable historical names.  At Penny Lane we are proud of all our staff and while the world may not know these names, they are notable to us . . . Sean Alred, Karina Wynn, Felicia Ramirez and Kishi Gonzales had the spotlight shone on them.  Through these we learned of Kishi’s roots in Louisiana, Sean’s musical history, the warmth of Karina’s familial home and hearing all about the neighborhood Abuela that Felicia grew up with.

A highlight of our Black History celebration were the recipes we shared.  Many thanks to Fanta Ritchie, Cathy Blair, Ronetta Gandy, Kishi Gonzales and LaTanya Douglas for sharing your delicious recipes.  Who is ready to make Kishi’s Crawfish, Ronetta’s Egg Pie, Fanta’s Broccoli Casserole, LaTanya’s fried chicken and Cathy’s Jambalaya?  What a beautiful way to acknowledge the legacy and meaning of African America food!

While staff was being spotlighted and recipes being shared (check out the video below with all the recipes), we also took the time to say how much we appreciate all our staff with Unity and Gratitude.  The month started with a flower stand. Reception areas were all a bloom as staff chose a vase and flowers for their office.  On another day breakfast bagels and cream cheese helped to get the day started.  Notes of appreciation were handed out, cupcakes and valentines greeted us on 2/14 and cookies were placed in mailboxes on 2/19.  Throughout the month we received emails from our CEO, Wendy Carpenter, who reminded us about the importance of belonging and creating a welcoming environment for all.  Finally, the staff was treated to games of Bingo and a pizza lunch to end our month-long honoring of our staff.  

We are so proud of who we are and what we can do together.  Celebrating Black History and Gratitude and Unity at the same time was not a mistake.  It was a conscious decision to shower our staff with recognition.  Acknowledging the past, shining the light on our present and looking at what we can do together exemplifies our Black history and our gratitude for all of you.  Without you, the work we do would not be possible and taking the time to remind everyone of that hopefully demonstrated our unwavering gratitude.

-Judy Grant, Penny Lane Centers

Black History Recipe Celebration: Recipes