A Year of Rest | Guest Stories

100 Nights of Rest: Recipient Spotlight

Meet 20 recipients of a night of rest through our offering in partnership with Rachel Cargle—100 Nights of Rest. In the words of those who nominated them, we’re sharing their stories in the hope that their dedication, conviction, and spirit will help make this a movement, not a moment.

Anastasia Tompkin

“Anastasia is a force of nature. From the day I met her she has used her voice and her actions to combat racism and white supremacy. She is a prolific writer, having created and managed a blog dedicated to topics related to racial justice, and she now publishes regularly on her Medium page. She is a poet and a fiction writer, with a poetry collection soon to be published. She works at a nonprofit dedicated to mitigating the damage caused by mass incarceration, and she weaves advocacy and the fight for justice into her every move, be it in the workplace, in her relationships, or in her self-expression. She is a perceptive and talented writer, a caring and loyal friend, and a defender of her community. In short, Anastasia deserves a Getaway because she deserves to breathe and thrive and prosper.”

Andre Mercharles

“Andre describes himself as a photo journalist, storyteller and documenter. He has been out on the streets of New York City, Minneapolis, and Texas capturing the raw moments of every protest—whether they start out peacefully and end peacefully or even when they unfortunately end in a violent manner. He is capturing moments the media is not showing us—he is acting how a true journalist should be acting; showing true integrity even if the face of rubber bullets, tear gas, and exposure to COVID-19. I truly expect his photos to show up in history books in a few decades. The story he is sharing with the world, through his camera lens, matter and he is committed to sharing this story with anyone who will listen. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but if you have a moment to check his Instagram feed, there is a whole novel ready to read.”

Angela Patton

“Angela has turned a labor of love into a force that fully supports and guides Black Girls in the Richmond, VA area. She started this after an unfortunate event took the life of a young girl she loved. She knew then that Black girls needed a safe space to go. She has grown the Camp Dive into Girls For A Change that has social justice at the forefront while also nurturing and empowering girls. She has brought so many resources like coding, workforce training, policy reform, and much more. She creates a safe space for young girls to grow into leaders and get the space that they need to develop and get resources. Not only does she help young girls but she also empowers and connects young women like myself as well. She can always connect you and go out of her way to get you the support and resources that you need to chase your dreams. She is a pivotal component in so many lives and she does so much of the work by herself!”

Ayanna Lyons

“My sweet friend is one of the kindest, most hardworking people I know. Ayanna has made advocacy for incarcerated folks her life’s work. Ayanna works for the Petey Greene Program, a program that trains volunteers to support the academic goals of incarcerated students. As a former coworker of Ayanna, I can attest to her incredibly driven, loving, and hardworking attitude. Outside of work, Ayanna advocates for her community and for the abolition of prisons. As someone who is always working to better her community, Ayanna deserves a break to rest. I am so proud to know her and witness her brilliance.”

Brandon Patterson

“Brandon is a high school English teacher who created an “Inclusion and Equity Team” at our school in which he has led likeminded teachers to encourage, teach, and advocate for anti-racism. He continues to provide resources and ideas to our school leadership to better the program and the school as a whole, and provides unwavering support to his students. He’s truly an amazing individual and a fierce advocate for our students. I would love for him to rest.”

Dr. Deolu Aromolaran

“Deolu is a pediatrics resident who works in a hospital treating primarily minority patients. He goes into work every day, fighting against the racist healthcare system and provides Black children with excellent care and acts as a mentor to look up to. A few weeks ago, when the curfew was in place, he risked his life, driving as a Black man after curfew, going back and forth to work. On a weekly basis he has young Black male patients tell him they have never seen a Black doctor. He works tirelessly with the administration to increase the number of Black physicians hired by the hospital and works to improve their experience once they are hired. He spends hours personally mentoring them so that they can succeed. He is actively working to bring others into the spaces he occupies and increase diversity in medicine. As a Black male physician, his existence and success is an act of resistance.”

Evainna Ross

“Evainna tirelessly works for the young men in her program. Part mother/sister/friend to every one of them. She started The Black Suit Initiative to help at-risk young Black men explore opportunities for careers and build leadership skills. They are awarded a black suit at the end of the program because wearing a suit increases your confidence and bearing. Their major fundraising event was held just a week before COVID-19 shut everything down and donations have only trickled in since. She’s been working a part time job to help sustain this non-profit as well as continuing it’s programming with the 35+ students. Always focussing on others, she deserves some time away for herself.”

Everett Arthur

“Everett is an incredible friend and coworker who has spent the better part of his life showing up for, and supporting, his community in both his personal and professional life. Everett works with a national gun violence prevention organization and has helped to advocate for and pass a number of GVP bills across the country. His focus on gun violence prevention is tied to his commitment to bettering the material conditions of Black communities. He consistently draws attention to inequity in the workplace and advocates for Black women and Black queer people in navigating their workplaces. As someone who is deeply committed to bettering the world for his community, Everett often forgets to prioritize his own needs. In the midst of the pandemic and ongoing national protests, I believe a Getaway is the perfect opportunity for Everett and his partner to rest and recharge.”

Haquika “Kika” Howze

“Kika is an incredible energy and force who has always been at the forefront of uplifting, educating, and creating action for the health and economic advancement of the black community. Most recently she co-founded an initiative to mobilize voter registration for the black and brown communities (@blackouttheballot), all the while working full time as an influencer marketer for a black owned agency, Team Epiphany. (TE partners with some of the biggest brands in the world including Nike inc, Audi, HBO, etc. and Kika has been spearheading providing a seat at the table for young black and brown talent within the corporate landscape.) This type of activism and action is something Kika has been a part of her entire life, the power of which has been passed down to her from her mother and her mother before that. I have been in awe of her light and impact for as long as I’ve known her however I know for Kika to share that energy and make change—she not only deserves that energy to be invested back into her; she needs it for her mental and physical health.”

Jasmine Edwards

“My best friend Jasmine has been working as a Music Therapist in the Pediatrics Unit of Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in New York City since the first week that the Coronavirus pandemic hit our city. No, for real, her first day was that week! At the same time, she has been working as an Adjunct Professor in the Music Therapy Department at Howard University in Washington DC. Jasmine took the job at Howard—though she had to commute to DC for 4 hours twice a week—because she is deeply invested in the success of Black students in the therapy professions as a way to provide mental health resources to Black and other underrepresented communities who often have stigmas about self-care though they experience the most trauma. She cares so much about the students that she comes into contact with, and she genuinely wants to see them succeed. Because she was working both jobs at the same time, Jasmine had to work 6 days out of the week for the whole semester. She did not complain even once, because she was happy to support her students and the children at the hospital. She has trouble with anxiety and I know the toll that the uncertainty of the pandemic was taking on her every day, yet she went to work every day with a smile on her face. I am so proud of Jasmine for the work that she is doing every day, but I would love for her to have some much-deserved time to rest, relax, and recharge.”

Leila Marchbanks

“Leila is an inspiration to me on so many levels. On top of fighting for Black lives daily and raising two sons, she is a teacher who is pushing for changes in school curriculum. She recently started The Book At The Table, which gives teachers and parents resources to give children books with diverse authors and stories. She continues to fight to have the full history of the Black community told in schools, and she is helping create change by inspiring youth!”

Lina Washington

“Lina Washington is one of the hardest workers I know. She is one of few Black female sports broadcasters, she has been protesting, and she’s used her voice to create @boardsforchange, raising over $10,000 for Black Lives Matter. This, all while her father suffered from COVID-19. He recently passed away from the coronavirus, and she has not only continued to raise money for BLM and supported her cause, but she has had dozens of interviews to expose the dangerous working conditions for those forced to go back to work too soon, and the rising danger of COVID-19 in her hometown of Phoenix. This girl is non-stop and had to publicly announce she would now like to take a day to grieve after weeks of nonstop community service. She is amazing, she deserves everything. There are few people who have single handedly done more for their community.”

Marlene Boyette

“Marlene radiates positive, healing energy. She uses her yoga practice to support people around her of all ages to practice radical self care. In this time of deep trauma for the black community, she has stepped up to provide opportunities for people of color to take time for healing and self care. This is an essential part of racial justice. Black people are exhausted and experiencing severe trauma and Marlene is overcoming that reality to support others. She is the epitome of extending self care to community care. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a rest so she can keep showing up and providing herself as a resource in the community.”

Melony Samuels

“Rev. Dr. Samuel is truly a remarkable Black woman who has dedicated much of her life to affecting change in the Bedford Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn. She founded the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger over 16 years ago and serves as the Executive Director of the organization. She left a well paying job to start the organization to meet the demands of the food insecure in Brooklyn. Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) is more than a food pantry, it’s a super pantry and NYC’s largest emergency food pantry. Five days a week, New Yorkers in need can visit for free healthful food and support services including tax preparation, healthy cooking classes, and a variety of additional community needs that are too long to list. Once the pandemic hit the need for their services exponentially increased and she and the staff had to contend with potential food shortages. But, Rev. Samuels is somehow tireless in her drive and dedication to making sure people did NOT go hungry, and started to try filling in the financial gaps. I nominate her, because while I say she is tireless, I know that can not be true because the work that she so willingly and lovingly does has to be emotionally and physically draining. I know she could and deserves some rest to decompress and recharge, so she can keep fighting food insecurity and poverty.”

Paula Champagne

“Paula is a storyteller, an artist, an essence-capturer. She describes herself as a visual storyteller, plant gatherer, and nap taker. I met Paula when we both worked for a local environmental conservation nonprofit, where she was a photographer, tasked with capturing images and anecdotes of folks getting outdoors, but I soon learned that she was an artist as well as a photographer. I first discovered her art when I saw her Black Women in History series for Black History Month where she created a series of posters celebrating impactful Black women in history, and then saw her Nature Nurture series, an illustration series exploring and celebrating the relationship between Black folks, femininity, and nature. There is nothing that Paula touches that doesn’t turn more beautiful because of her, whether that be a plant, a soul, or a mind. The outdoor industry often features white people in their advertisements and makes space largely for white people and no one else, and Paula works hard to showcase Black people’s place in nature.”

Peyton Dix

“Peyton, who is the special projects editor of InStyle Magazine and was previously the social media manager for PAPER Magazine, has been pushing the culture for LGBTQ and black communities front and center. Her dedication to elevating marginalized communities can be shown throughout her work. She is a leader in activism and spreads sunshine, humor and education through all the content she produces. She is continuously open to her followers on social media by discussing her mental health and the importance of such discussions. If you ask me or any of the fans, we believe she truly deserves this getaway.”

Riyona Abraham

“Riyona is a registered nurse working in one of Chicago’s largest Neonatal ICUs and the only one serving the predominantly Black population of the West side of Chicago. In order to protect the fragile babies she cares for and avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, Riyona has been organizing fellow nurses in silent protest and kneeling on the hospital rooftop for 8 minutes 46 seconds every day. Riyona has been fighting for better treatment for her Black colleagues, Black moms and babies and Black lives throughout her career. She deserves rest and healing!”

Shaina Harrison

“My sister is an amazing mom, teacher and activist. She’s the Educational doctor at New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. Over the past 15 years she’s been fighting to amplify the voices of young Black teens living in communities disproportionately affected by violence and poverty. She’s a mentor to hundreds of young people all over NYC. She’s written curriculum and taught restorative justice and empathy in NYC school. Organized marches with 50,000 thousand participants. Created a COVID-19  response for the DoE and facilitated virtual learning classes for young people throughout the epidemic. She is a hero. She deserves rest. She’s been written about in the New Yorker as a New Yorker of the week twice. All while taking care of a 2-year-old. She even blogs about plus size fashion creating brave spaces for plus size women to love and advocate for themselves.” 

Tanya Denise Fields

“If there is anyone that deserves a Getaway, it is Tanya Denise Fields aka Mama Tanya. Tanya is one of the most passionate, transparent, resilient and powerfully humble women I’ve ever met. I have watched her document her struggles and her triumphs, with tender grace and with righteous rage; a striking, daily polarity known by Black people all too well. Her Facebook Lives are known for expletive-laden, full facing truths and undeniable, glaring looks at racism, social injustice, intersectionality and Black feminism; just as much as they are a glorious window to watching her prepare delicious recipes from Mama Tanya’s Kitchen, revel in her children’s accomplishments and bask in a beautiful, Black love story with her fiancé, Mustaphai. Tanya is a mother of six and was featured by the New York Times, highlighting her fight with Coronavirus while living in their crowded apartment—it was a harsh and hurtful look into economically-disadvantaged people seeking equitable healthcare during a pandemic. A few weeks ago, Tanya and her fiancé, along with her 17 year old daughter, participated in a peaceful protest in a South Bronx neighborhood that turned into a brutal, ambush by the NYPD. They were tear gassed, pushed, shoved and manhandled by the police. The melee resulted in Mustaphi being unlawfully arrested. Through each of Tanya’s very public experiences, I am inspired, encouraged and motivated to action. I recently volunteered at the “Black Joy Farm“, which is a radical food growing green space in the South Bronx that Tanya founded. Since 2014, the farm has grown and given away hundreds of pounds of food. On June 12th, during the the farm’s first Food Box Giveaway, we distributed fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat to over 80 families, almost 200 people. Even after the obvious traumas she recently experienced, she still shows up for the people. Tanya doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks it… hard AF. Tanya is also the founder of The Black Feminist Project—which “enriches the lives of, restores agency, justice, joy and health to Black women, girls, and non-men, often referred to as marginalized genders or MaGes and the children they care for—with an emphasis on mother-led families. Using dynamic and engaging food and reproductive justice programming that explores not only the intersections of race, class, gender and respectability politics but also empowers them to tap into their inherent leadership abilities and dare to put themselves at the center of their own universes.”

Zakiya Bell-Rogers

“Zakiya works as a domestic violence educator at Helpmate DV Advocacy in Asheville, NC. She has an incredibly special and unique way of making people, especially survivors, feel seen, validated, and lifted-up. This is so important because domestic violence survivors are often unseen and controlled by their abusers, and they face gaslighting and intense shame and loneliness. Zakiya also works hard to educate community members, including law enforcement, about how to respond to witnessing domestic violence or hearing someone disclose the abuse they are experiencing. She is passionate, energetic, and she kindly challenges ignorance. She has been working so hard amidst the coronavirus and the protests, including working overnight shifts in the shelter and additional hotline shifts, which are draining and demanding. She has been challenging racism and anti-blackness within Helpmate and in the Asheville community, despite personal health concerns. When Zakiya speaks, I listen. She has been a source of education, not only around domestic violence, but also race and racism; I am so grateful for the time that I’ve gotten to spend with her, and I feel like I am better at my job working with DV survivor because of Zakiya.”