By Dylan Deprey
While growing up, Tina “Ms. Jazzi” Nixon and Shelly Conley uncovered a love for poetry. Nixon lived in Chicago, and later cultivated her career as a spoken word poet in Milwaukee. Conley was born and raised in Milwaukee, and found the courage to express the feelings she had inked into her diaries through live poetry.
Later on, as both had earned accolades and success through their imagery and wordplay, they had also worked in the communities they loved and lived in.
After nearly 20 years of work, they noticed there was no stage set for females to be inspired, as they had on their own.
“Growing up, there was no platform to help us believe in ourselves,” Nixon said. “So, we wanted to give these girls something we never had.”
In 2013, MySista’s KeepHer was created to inspire and encourage young girls to love themselves and each other through writing workshops that promoted positive self-expression.
While using poetry as the primary tool, young women are encouraged to raise their voice and share their experiences as a way to foster self-expression, self-discovery, compassion and empathy.
“Some of the work in these workshops can be very emotional,” Nixon said. “So, we try to provide incentives to the girls.”
Along with events like the Dream Big Spa Day and Mother & Daughter Pajama Party, there is one event in particular that ignites inspiration within young females in the community, and also extends a torch to those who are already good female role models.
My Sista’s KeepHer will be rolling out the red carpet at the Tripoli Shrine Center to host the third Annual Females In Recognition of Excellence (F.I.R.E) Awards on June 24.
The celebration will honor 13 amazing women and young ladies from Milwaukee in six different categories: Sistahood, Arts, Image, Community Involvement, Entrepreneurship and Perseverance.
“This is our biggest event of the year, so we really try to go all out for this one,” Conley said.
Former honorees include, Bianca Williams, A Cry for Help founder, Catina Cole, activist and MPower Theater Group founder and Kimberly Hall, professional baker and Signature Sweets bakery owner.
“You cannot expect them [young girls] to be what they have never seen,” Conley said. “So, the F.I.R.E. Awards is a way to showcase women that look like them, and may have gone through the same things they are going through.”
“One of my favorite awards is the “Perseverence Award” because you don’t have to have a degree or all these accolades. All you have to be is person that has made it through and persevered and not give up,” Conley said.
Along with the ceremonies, the celebration will also include a variety of live entertainment, red carpet banter, prizes and dinner. Funds raised through the F.I.R.E. Awards will go directly towards programming and workshops.
“We want to put these girls in a space where they are encouraged, they are inspired and they can own the world,” Conley said.
To become a sponsor or to sponsor a student for the F.I.R.E. Awards visit www.mysistaskeepher.com/donate.
Tickets are available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-awards-females-in-recognition-of-excellence-tickets-45848117955