In nature, a magnolia is known for its strength, longevity and ability to stay rooted, so when Linda Miller began an organization in the 1990s dedicated to empowering mothers and daughters, she named it Steel Magnolias, Inc.
Miller, 62, a retired guidance counselor, and a woman who reared her daughter, Tamara, as a single mother, brought some of her expertise to Fort Bragg, April 27.
Steel Magnolias, Inc., sponsored by the Junior League of Fayetteville, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and The Cumberland County Coleman Love Initiative, held a mother-daughter conference, at Shughart Middle School.
The focus of this year’s conference was about handling depression in a climate of uncertainty, said Tonita Perry, a public relations strategist who helped market the conference.
Attendees participated in workshops pertaining to relationships, healthy eating, self-image and mental and physical health.
Julanda Jett, 36, and her daughter, Meghan, 12, took part in the workshops.
Julanda said she learned about the importance of communication between her and her daughter, and about how to financially prepare for Meghan’s future as a college student.
For Meghan, the conference was revealing.
“It’s an experience that taught me how to treat my mom better and not to talk back,” said the middle school student. “I know to respect her.”
Meghan also said that rather than spending so much time on her cell phone, Instagram and listening to music, she will make a more concerted effort to talk to her mother.
“I’ll say, ‘I love you more,’ and express my feelings to her,” said Meghan, who hopes to major in communications or to become a doctor when she’s grown.
In the art workshop conducted by Anthony Morrison, the Jetts learned how to lend each other a helping hand. Many of the pieces displayed by Morrison showed subjects offering assistance to someone.
No one makes it in the world alone, said Morrison, a local artist and entertainer.
“Know your purpose and enjoy what you are doing in this world,” Morrison advised the attendees. “Art is like life — sometimes we need to put things in proportion.”
Gwen Blondmonville talked to attendees about strategies for coping with depression.
Knowing the symptoms of depression and taking steps to be a part of mainstream society are the keys to battling it. Isolation causes its own set of problems.
“When you wall yourself off, you make it a problem for you and for your Family,” she said.
Other presentations at the conference included a speech by Kimberly Sanborn, wife of Fort Bragg Garrison commander, Col. Jeffrey M. Sanborn. The event also featured presentations about yoga, zumba and a workshop about guiding one’s daughter through the learning process by developing and enforcing expectations and by helping to form good study habits.
Steel Magnolias, Inc. will continue its work of strengthening relationships between mothers and daughters.
“If we can just reach one mother, one child, we’ve done our job,” said Perry.
For more information about Steel Magnolias, Inc., call Miller at 578-9276, visit http://steelmagnoliainc.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.