A Year of Rest | Guest Stories

100 Nights of Rest: Recipient Spotlight

We’re sharing more amazing stories from recipients of rest through our 100 Nights of Rest offering, in partnership with Rachel Cargle. Get to know Brittany, Camara, Erin, Esther, Ieasha, Kayla, Kelabe, Olithea, Rachel, Tami, Tanya, and Tina through the eyes of those who nominated them.

Ashley Ogal

“My wife works hard every day to support and honor educators. She hosts workshops and retreats that allow for real conversations to happen amongst teachers, principals, and all educational workers. She provides safe spaces for educators to get real about divisions in classrooms and communities. For the past four years she’s put her heart and soul into bringing unity, peace and joy back to American classrooms. She is an example of what the world needs to see. As a Black woman, building this nonprofit has been incredibly hard for her, but she knows that reaching a wide audience of educators will ultimately impact the lives of many children and their families.”

Brittany Paschall

“I think anyone who knows Brittany knows she deserves all good things. Brittany is an organizer, teacher, and a wonderful friend. Ever since I met Brittany over three years ago, she has been the most consistent, dedicated, and passionate person I know. As an organizer and educator, Brittany displays her leadership, care, and astounding ability to handle just about every task whether it be management, design, education, media, etc. You name it and Brittany can do it or will learn to do it. Check out her website or just google her name and you will see her magnificence. What makes Brittany unique in her her activism, educating, and organizing is that she is a fierce friend. There is no better person to call for laughter, tears, or pain. Brittany is always there to hold her friends, to pray for them, and to listen. Brittany is phenomenal and deserves the best, however, we know that the world does not treat black women with the love, care, and respect they deserve. It hurts to witness my friend deal with the pain the loss of friends and family. It hurts to witness my friend be attacked by white supremacy. It hurts to see my friend have to endure a world that demands her greatness but disregards it. If there is one thing I wish for Brittany each day, it is that she is able to find a moment of peace. A moment where she does not need to fight the racist, be burdened by the world, or more loss. This is why I am nominating Brittany – she deserves much more than a moment, but in this world, a moment can equate to the strength to continue fighting another day. Thank you for the opportunity to nominate my friend.”

Camara Stokes Hudson

“Camara has been on the front-lines of the BLM protests in DC for years – where she was born and raised in the activist community – and has been a very active BLM protestor and legal advocate for the last few months. She is currently pursuing a J.D. at NYU Law focused on child/family rights, economic security, educational equity, and race equity. She has been a passionate advocate for juvenile justice reform as a Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Justice (publishing on the school-to-prison pipeline for BIPOC children in CT) and an instructor at Vermont SPEAK’s Prison Debate Initiative (a program that aimed to promote powerful voices through public speaking, education, critical thinking, and diplomatic dissent), and she has held a variety of positions at the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, inter alia. Camara is a force of nature. She was one of the 80 people kettled in on Swann Street in a DC protest that went viral, and as a close friend of hers, I want her to have the time and space to regroup. She has limitless energy and devotion, and I want to support her to keep that fire going. She is empathetic, smart, organized, and passionate. Where she leads, people follow. She deserves a slice of quiet to rest. It is hard to be a committed advocate, law student, and friend, and she makes it look easy, but I know she would love the opportunity to focus on a moment alone. I want to help her however I can, because I love her, and because I know she will struggle to make the time for herself.”

Erin Gaines

“Erin and I were roommates for two years, and she’s one of my dearest friends. She’s a recent KU graduate with a degree in Music Therapy and is currently working as a licensed music therapist in a prison. Erin had just moved to LA to start her music therapy position when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Due to concerns about the pandemic her job suddenly became even more stressful, her personal workload and number of clients in sessions more than doubled. She’s working so hard, lost a friend just weeks ago, and hasn’t had a break. She’s going through one of the toughest seasons of her life, and yet I see her mindfully choosing joy and positivity. She still pours out for her clients and colleagues; celebrating their victories and helping them continue to rise in their defeat. She’s providing essential therapy during this period of isolation, but deserves some therapeutic isolation herself. Erin has always found peace and mindfulness in nature and often goes for walks and enjoys the outdoors. She makes friends with every bumblebee she finds and loves to stop and smell the flowers. I think a peaceful night in a cabin in nature would be the ideal way for her to have a chance to breathe. It may be hard to see the ways Erin is fighting for change from an outside perspective, but that is because so many of her battles take place privately in a clinical setting. Erin helps her clients make internal changes; encouraging them to be vulnerable and acknowledge their feelings, and write their own stories. But because these things are private they aren’t shared on social media, and she never discloses private information. Very few people get to see the amazing and transformative work she does every day, and she often has trouble seeing the difference she makes. She’s constantly educating me by leading by example, even though I don’t think she realizes it. I’ve learned so much from her about putting others first, and continuing to work toward a goal even when it seems like no progress is being made; and I think it’s time Erin had a chance to put herself first and take a break so she can continue toward her own goals. Recently the work she loves has felt more and more like a burden, but she still goes in to work each day with a smile and a heart that’s open and eager to help others. Erin is truly a role model, and if you said so to her she would laugh it off and not believe it. But it’s absolutely true. She’s strong and vulnerable, honest and hard-working, humble and confidant, an artist and a friend. Basically a real-life Disney Princess.”

Esther Hardy

Esther is a dear friend and an incredible advocate for Black youth and woman in her professional and personal life. She is one of the only Black staff members at the Beaverton High School, where she has gone the extra mile to support their BSU and create spaces for Black womxn to come together in solidarity, strength, and joy. She lives a life of radical love for herself and others, and during this time has experienced the loss of a friend and a family emergency, amidst everything else. Esther comes from a strong family legacy of Black leaders of faith in Portland, which is the whitest city in America. She is a beacon of light and her faith, and holds a deep love for the outdoors. Where it can be hard to get away in the city right now, Esther deserves this space to exhale as a part of the continuous work she does for the revolution.

Ieasha Ramsay

“Ieasha is a therapist who serves predominantly young women of color. She is an unbelievable safe space for the black women who continue to feel left out, unseen, fetishized and brutalized by the white supremacy and misogyny that rules this country. Ieasha is deeply devoted to healing her community and to supporting black women’s mental health as they fight for their rights together. She is one of my very best friends and has been struggling with her own processing of black lives lost, while supporting the processing of other black women. She is amazing and brilliant and kind and deserves some rest in nature!!!!!!”

Kayla Vinson

“Kayla is a force for Black people in the South and across the nation. For her full time work, she is a Law Fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative where she consistently goes above and beyond expectations. Contributing to the organizations re-entry program for formerly incarcerated people, conducting research and writing for EJI’s award winning reports (such as the recently released report on racial violence during Reconstruction), and supporting communities across the nation working to advance racial justice through EJI’s community remembrance project. In addition to her paid-work, Kayla is a key organizer with Southerners on New Ground (SONG) in Montgomery. She has led efforts to rename the Montgomery public schools, which are predominantly attended by Black students and are named after Confederate generals. A former educator, Kayla also does the slow work of holding space with friends and peers and family to bring them along in the fight for racial justice. If all this weren’t enough to demonstrate that our good sis needs some REST, she is also a beloved daughter, auntie, sister, and friend. Her community in Montgomery know to turn to her for a listening ear or a time of relaxation. She embodies the mission of this program in every way. Her work is holy and her rest is truly needed.”

Kelabe Tewolde

“Kelabe has been supporting his community in a big way. By day, he is an academic counselor at Rainier Scholars and is an advisor to over 90 low income students of color in Seattle. Since the protests started in Seattle, he has been raising money to buy food from Black-owned businesses to hand out and feed the movement. He has raised almost $10,000 and supported Black restaurants stay in business while also feeding BIPOC youth at protests. On top of all that, he also has been driving his single mother, a refugee and nurse assistant at Swedish hospital, to work during COVID-19. He loves helping people and always puts others first. He also has a ton of vacation days that he has been stockpiling because he hasn’t taken a break in a long time. He is an incredible leader in his community and supports so many people. He loves adventure and deserves a rest!”

Lynsey Weatherspoon

“Lynsey is an editorial photographer that has been on the frontlines of the BLM movement, documenting the changes as they happen in the Southeast. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a night off in peace and quiet.”

Mekeala Joseph

“Mekeala is the director of Step It Up After School in 3rd Ward, Houston. She has overseen students from 1st-8th Grade in an after school/summer program for nearly 8 years. She has also fostered her niece and nephew for nearly 3 years. Mekeala has faithfully guided her students through multiple instances of sibling or parent incarceration, neighborhood violence, and bereavement. Most recently, one of her students, age 14, was shot multiple times in a random act of violence while walking to his friend’s apartment. Mekeala continued summer programming, through her tears and distress, so that his classmates — her students — could have a safe place to gather and process. She has built a community of young people who encourage one another in their passions, who have gained the strength to be transparent about their feelings and fears, and who love one another. Mekeala loves these children so fervently but has not taken a true vacation for personal rest in years! I believe she deserves the space to reflect and recharge before the next school year begins.”

Olithea Anglin

“Olithea is an incredible artist, educator, activist, and friend. She has been writing music as anthems, tributes, and expressions of Black resilience, excellence, beauty, and strength for years. She teaches young people in NYC who have been impacted by gentrification, and serves as a community leader and role model in so many ways. She is a constant source of light and inspiration to everyone around her and she is ALWAYS hustling. Nonstop. She is an extraordinary human who deserves all the best things, including a moment to rest and recharge.”

Rachel Junard

“In Boston, there are yoga studios everywhere, but it’s difficult to find a teacher who doesn’t fit the white, able-bodied woman stereotype. Amidst this unwelcome environment, Rach—a Black, queer yogi—is working to create wellness spaces for Black & brown yogis who otherwise may not feel like they have a safe, welcoming place to practice. Her business @yougoodsis hosts regular pop-up events around the city. Rach has transcended the traditional yoga studio to build her own following and host inclusive wellness events on her own terms. More recently with the country’s uprising against police brutality and racial injustice, Rach has been receiving a lot of new attention as one of the few Black yoga teachers in the city, and white studio owners are been looking to her to solve their lack of diversity problems when previously ignored opportunities to support and uplift her. Rach has been working tirelessly for years to create a community and give space for non-white yogis for years, and she deserves rest!”

Tami Sawyer

“Tami is an activist, elected official, & community leader. She led the movement to take down our confederate statues, recently ran for mayor, and in her commission seat has been tirelessly working on behalf of the Black people in Memphis, most recently by working to hold businesses accountable for the customer’s use of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic & proposing to defund the police department by 10% and reallocate those dollars to community services. On every front – personal, professional, community – she is fighting and overcoming challenges no one should have to face alone, let alone combined. Those that she fights with, for, and alongside often don’t realize how often they’re asking her to step into the “strong Black woman” archetype; she does it because the work is vital for Black life & liberation. And my friend is tired. She needs a break!”

Tanya Nixon-Silberg

“Tanya is one of the cofounders of Boston’s Wee The People, a social justice project for kids that aims to teach children about using their voices for justice, resistance, and activism.”

Tina Alexander

“Tina is a dedicated, compassionate, empathetic, and fierce social worker who fights for racial justice. She is a full time social worker at UT Austin’s counseling center, where she provides therapeutic services to any of the university’s 50,000+ college students. She is one of few Black counselors at that center. By working there, she fights for the Black community to have access to a Black counselor. She deserves a Getaway because she is on the front lines, advocating for the mental health needs of clients, for racial representation in therapists, and holding space for her clients to express their own traumas and challenges. It requires much emotional labor for her to not only help her clients, but advocate for herself as a Black woman in a predominantly white counseling system. She created a project and pitched why racial representation at the counseling center is so important. She expels so much emotional and physical energy working in this space, but she does it because she loves working with her clients.”