When you think of an eagle, more often than not, you probably think of power, beauty, and being able to soar. In fact, an eagle is known for being fast, furious, and for owning the sky when it takes flight. But I’m guessing, you never think of yourself as an eagle, so to speak. What I mean by that is when we were born, God instilled in us power, beauty, will, and the ability to soar in life. But then as we grew, obstacles and circumstances prevented us from being able to be all we could be; and often, so many of us let those things block us, stop us or deter us, which caused us to become what our situations made us.
With that being said; unfortunately, we learned to maneuver with broken wings, and we carry that brokenness around with us. But on the other hand, God instilled in each of us: vision, will, choice, and everything with which we need to fight. The bottom line is we can choose to keep our broken wings and suffer or we can do what is necessary to be restored. It is our hope that you will find the strength, passion and drive to be restored, so that you can move on to live a purpose-filled life. When we connected with Gwendolyn, we were blown away with the services she provides to people who are suffering. We applaud her for her heart and for finding her path towards giving back. Read along as we interview Gwendolyn about life, struggles, and how she turned her life around and is using her life for the greater good.
3WV: Tell us about Gwendolyn Richie.
Gwendolyn: I’m from Hollywood, Florida, but I currently live in Miami, Florida. I am a 45 year old divorced mother with one son. In addition, I have two sisters on my mother’s side. Sadly, my mother and brother passed away when I was 9 years old. Unfortunately, I have never known my father. However, I have met my sisters and brothers on my father’s side. Later in life, I went on to complete trade school and received a medical assistant certificate. With that said, my background is in the medical field and accounting. After a point, I thought about my life and career, and decided to drop out of college and start working towards entrepreneurship.
With hard work and determination as my driving force, I am now the Founder and President of a nonprofit organization called, Eagles with Broken Wings Inc. In addition, I am currently building a new company called G. Lavish Boutique. With that said, I have realized my passion is finding ways to assist struggling women, children and families to lighten their burden during an emergency or a crisis. Additionally, I am passionate about satisfying my customers, and filming and editing vlogs. Another one of my goals is to own real estate, in order to acquire passive income; doing so, will give me the power to be more effective with renting to veterans, families on section-8, and with getting people out of homeless shelters. Lastly, another passion of mine is home decorating. But with all the things I love to do, prayer is what keeps me grounded, and my favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13… I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. And my favorite quote is “Amen to that!”
3WV: Everybody has a story. What’s your story?
Gwendolyn: My story can be written in a book. I’m just like you. I’ve been hurt, rejected, broken, and touched, when I should not have been. I’ve hung out with the wrong crowds and gotten in trouble. I tried cigarettes and weed, but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve been in the wrong relationships. I’ve been in a house that was completely shot up and all the bullets missed me. I’ve been divorced and left by a man. I’ve had a ring given to me, and it was taken back. I’ve been humiliated and embarrassed. I’ve been lonely and brokenhearted. Although, my son’s father is in our lives and supports us financially, I still have a broken family. All in all, I am still a single mother with a broken family. In fact, there have been times when I have lived pillow to post with family and friends; and sadly, I was in a homeless shelter for 9 months. Further, I have slept in my car a few times. The truth is I’ve really struggled in my life; and at times, I didn’t know how I was going to make it. I’ve been hungry and lacking. I’ve been without and broke, and didn’t know how I was going to get gas or pay my bills. I’ve lived in a house that didn’t have lights and I had to bathe in cold water. I’ve been on welfare. I’ve been in a car accident, and I almost drowned when I was young. I’ve experienced all kinds of pain, but God always put me right back on my feet, standing as if nothing had ever happened to me. The struggle is real and without the test there would be no testimony. Turning my life around had everything to do with my mindset. What’s in you will definitely be revealed no matter what situation you’re in. If you are weak… it will be revealed, if you are strong… it will be revealed. The bottom line, no matter where you toss me or leave me for dead; if I’m still breathing and in my right mind, I will find a way to get out of that situation, no matter how long it takes. It’s my mindset. The mind is powerful, and I am a very determined individual. You can take away things that can be replaced, but you cannot take away survival instincts or what God has placed inside of a person. It’s unexplainable, so you just have to keep the faith, believe, and endure the storms because I am a witness they will pass, and the sun will shine again—If you believe. I can go on and on about my life’s story. However, I will stop right here. To God be the glory!
3WV: What made you start a non-profit organization? Why did you name it, “Eagles with Broken Wings,” and breakdown what the title means?
Gwendolyn: This company was started because God gave me the vision back in 2013. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing or what I was supposed to do. I just knew it was God’s idea, so I started to act upon it through reading and research. I started it off as a LLC, which was all wrong, so I had it dissolved and changed to a non-profit. I went through many set backs and delays being very frustrated because I did not understand what God was doing. All I knew was that God gave me this vision; so at some point, it had to take off. I just had to wait until the timing was right. God said to me, “You can’t start this ministry if you haven’t experienced what the people you are serving have gone through.” After that, everything started to fall apart, and I went through many trials as I stated in “my story.” Finally, when the season and time was appropriate, it became effortless. I accomplished so much in the first year, and it blew people away who had non-profit businesses long before me. Now, when I speak to women who come through my ministry, I can sympathize with them because I know exactly what they are feeling because God chose me to experience it. Keeping that in mind, I prayed for a bi-lingual volunteer and God granted my request. Then, I crossed over into the Spanish community with her help, and went on the air at Pangea FM radio station to reach more donors in the Spanish community.
Here’s the breakdown. I named it, Eagles with Broken Wings because each of us were created with strength and built to soar high just as eagles. However, life has caused many of us to be broken because people lie to us, and they cheat and hurt us. In addition, some people have been abandoned, rejected, left in foster homes, and forgotten by people they loved. Continuing, some have been abused, making it hard to love or trust again. But God is saying, “We are eagles, we just have broken wings.” With that said, as I think about it, we have forgotten who we are and how we were originally created because life has broken us down. This ministry is designed to give fish to the broken until they can realize who they are, and then, learn how to fish with them understanding it takes awhile to rebuild things that have been broken. Keep in mind, God loves people and he is constantly chasing us. In fact, he wants better for us. Remember, we are not waiting on God, he is waiting on us to realize who we are and how he created us to be. Further, we were made to win and not drown in defeat as stated in 2Corinthians 4:8-9. Therefore, it is my desire that broken women recognize who they are by the renewing of their minds, and they see their troubles as a mountain that CAN be removed or see it as a smoke screen that’s bringing forth a bigger picture, and not allowing it to bring forth fear (False Evidence Appearing Real). However, keeping their thoughts aligned with the truth; what God is saying about you’re situation, he is saying dry bones can live again when you speak life into them. Finally, we need to hear the truth which brings forth faith; and faith comes by hearing, which gives us the power to push pass our trials and hurt, and then, turn our pain into purpose. I pray we accomplish what God has called us to do in life, so we won’t take our gifts and talents to the grave. That is not God’s plan for us. Never forget, we are eagles built to soar.
3WV: What does your organization do?
Gwendolyn: Eagles with Broken Wings Inc help to assist the homeless, struggling, low-income individuals and families to lighten their burden during an emergency or crisis by freely offering donations, resources and services. (We are not a homeless shelter).
3WV: What’s your why? What motivates you to do what you do? What’s your biggest challenge in doing what you do?
Gwendolyn: I do this work because it is my calling, and I am motivated because it is my passion. With that in mind, through my experiences, I know what it feels like to struggle, and to need help when you are at your lowest, so it is my mission to give back.
My biggest challenge is to discern and wean out people who desire to abuse the system/ministry. In other words, they take things when they don’t really need them or they will use the ministry in an inappropriate way by taking from those who are really struggling and in need of our services. Also, when I deal with angry and hurting people who get upset because I will not allow them to abuse the system. Although, I love giving, the ministry should be treated like the Red-Cross, and not be abused or depended upon on a regular basis. For this reason, we run out of supplies quicker, which makes it harder for someone to receive what they need.
3WV: How do you get people to believe in themselves after all the roadblocks, struggles and defeats they have suffered? Why is it important that they do?
Gwendolyn: I simply help people believe in themselves after all the roadblocks, struggles and defeats they have suffered, by reminding them of who they are and what they can become. In fact, I constantly remind them trouble doesn’t last always; and their trials are really not for them, but for somebody they will help in the future. Further telling them, we go through, so we can help somebody else come through. Explaining, the struggle is building character and creating a story that will give someone else in your pathway hope. When they think I don’t understand, I tell them my testimony… my story, to give them hope. Other things I do, I have them to create a vision board to look at where they desire to be. I also tell them to speak life instead of doubt and defeat over themselves, and their children. Lastly, I tell them to surround themselves with positive people who are moving and shaking, to be inspired and get motivation. The reason it is important for them to do this is to avoid suffering, setbacks and dying with no hope.
3WV: We understand there are obvious signs of brokenness in people, but based off of your knowledge, what are signs of broken people who don’t realize they are broken?
Gwendolyn: They hurt other people because they are hurting.
- They are, most of the time, distant and secluded. At times, things may be bottled up inside and can explode at anytime; usually because there is so much they need to get out, which they might express in angry or sometimes violent ways, such as, people shooting up schools. There is always a root cause, even if they don’t let you know (They are sometimes secretive). However, if they trust you, they will possibly breakdown if you speak on a topic they are struggling with. In addition, they may trust you if you give them hope in some kind of way, which could cause them to cling to you.
- Most of the time, broken people speak very negative and complain during a conversation. They never see any hope, and nothing ever goes right in their lives. Sometimes, they don’t believe anything good can happen for them, and they pass that negativity to their children. Also, they show more fear and doubt than faith in all situations.
- They seem clueless and lost, and are always in need of assistance or help. Most of them feel they can’t do things on their own. They have low self-esteem and don’t know who they are; and sometimes feel, they are not loved or good enough. They will sometimes say what they feel and it will show in their actions; such as, the use of drugs and alcohol, hanging with the wrong crowds, staying in abusive relationships or treating others how they are treated.
- Some are afraid to go out into the world or leave their comfort zones and soar. They don’t believe it’s possible or they don’t think they will make it. They are always stuck, and in need of direction, guidance and support to move forward. They will sometimes want to do better; but then, fall into procrastination and not take action.
- They are sad, empty, depressed and unhappy. They usually feel low, inactive or get upset over small matters. They blame themselves often, and dwell on the past usually allowing it to determine their future. Some can be suicidal and have trouble thinking things clearly, often, not sleeping properly because they are worried about their problems.
3WV: What have you learned from the people you help? What have you learned about yourself in the process?
Gwendolyn: One thing I have learned from the people I help is that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. I’ve learned that struggle and hardships will not discriminate, and it can visit anybody at anytime. As a matter of fact, just as the sun brings forth light, it can and will rain. I’ve also learned, this is not the state of mind I want to dwell in, so I continue to do things that would lead me in a more positive direction for my son and me, in spite of what life throws at me.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that my inner strength is far greater than whatever is going on in the environment or in my surroundings. I have the ability to see things in a positive or negative way. Therefore, I am in charge of my happiness, educating myself, growing, and striving to be in a thriving position. If it is meant to be, it’s up to me; and that means, I have to get up and put forth the effort by working on myself and the things I want in life. I’ve learned to never wait for opportunity to come knocking at my door because I have to create my own or it may not come. In fact, nobody’s going to come and save me; so with God’s help, I have to save myself.
3WV: What kind of help do you provide? What makes a good candidate to get help from your company?
Gwendolyn: A good candidate or our target audience are individuals who are on section-8, in housing programs, welfare recipients, Carrfour recipients, people who are homeless or struggling, and low-income individuals and families.
Our organization provides assistance through donations from our donors. We offer:
- Clothing and shoes for adults and/or children
- Diapers and wipes when in stock (They run out quickly)
- Some food items, such as, non-perishables
- Blankets, pillows, and snacks to the homeless on the street
- Weekly donation giveaway to families (bagels, pastries, breads, sweets from Panera Bread or Publix)
- Specific things we request, such as: beds, furniture or some household items, etc.
- All other random things that comes into the organization that may not be listed here.
- Notary services for $5.00. (I am a commissioned certified notary public.)
We provide resources; but if we do not have what you are looking for, we will direct you to the right place or individual connected to this ministry to assist you.
SWV: If a person feels broken, list some useful steps to help turn their life around.
Gwendolyn: These are just a few steps for anyone that is feeling broken to turn their life around:
- Pray. Prayer changes things. Stay connected to God for protection, guidance and strength. Always remember, delays are not denials. Although, some things may take a while, be patient for it to manifest. Good things come to those who wait.
- Keep the faith. No matter how the wind is blowing in your life or what it looks like never give up. Be willing to survive for yourself and your children without doing anything wrong or harmful to yourself or others to stay a float.
- Keep your heart pure. Envy, jealousy, hatred, and not wanting to see others win because of your situation will cause you to stay in a low and broken place. You will see a lot of people being blessed before your eyes, but just know your time is coming. Look to be inspired, but never envious. Pay attention to what’s really in your heart.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Connect with those who inspire you to win, and with people you can learn from and who help you grow.
- Stay focused and disconnect from anyone who does not support your happiness. This is true, even for family and close friends. Everybody can’t go where God is leading you. Also, sometimes, you may have to turn off the TV and radio to hear what God is speaking to you or to get your thoughts in proper alignment to where he is leading you. For example, entrepreneurs do not watch much TV or indulge in drama because they are too busy making moves towards their future to create the life they want.
- Create a vision board and set goals. List all the images of things you want to see manifest in your life and check them off as they happen. Continue to focus on the direction you are going by visiting your goals and board daily. Speak positivity over yourself and your children. Set short and long–term goals to guide you, then, take action to help you reach your desired destination. Recognize and avoid all distractions that will take you off course. Never be afraid to say “No,” when it is necessary. For instance: No, I’m not going out to eat because I am saving. No, I’m not gossiping on the phone for an hour because I have better things to do. No, I can’t have this relationship because it doesn’t serve my purpose or help me grow and become better. In fact, it’s only a distraction that’s tearing me down and taking me backwards. Therefore, it’s okay to say “NO” to whatever you feel is necessary, and if they want to leave you, do not stop them.
- Take action and avoid procrastination. Faith without works is dead. Every successful person works; whether it’s a job or their own business, and they’re passionate about it. Remember, if you do not work, you do not eat… It’s that simple. Get up and make moves, and by all means, don’t put things off. You risk the chance of never doing it when you put things on hold. As people, we move towards what we think about, so when the things we want are put off, it’s a chance it may never get done. You know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
- Read. Educate yourself. You do not have to spend thousands of dollars on college degrees to get education and understanding. Ask God for knowledge. Learn about passive or residual income, and the use of money market accounts instead of regular banks. It’s important to read things you are passionate about to give yourself inspiration and motivation, and because there is a lot of information hidden in books. Also, you can search on Google and YouTube about topics that interest you. A few great books are: Secrets of a Millionaire Mind, The Secret, Think and Grow Rich, and Who Moved My Cheese, to name a few. If you don’t like to read, find it in an audio book and plug in your earphones to listen. Where there is a will, there is a way; and remember, knowledge is power. Finally, don’t forget to read your bible because it is all of those books wrapped into one.
- Reward yourself. Allow yourself to do the things you love or buy yourself something nice. Also, laugh out loud with a good friend or think about some funny things you’ve experienced by yourself. Laughter can be rewarding. Other ways to reward yourself are to go on a staycation or a vacation. Another option is to go out and have fun, but remember to live within your budget… “bougie” on a budget until you can do better. I have a new book (Bougie on a Budget) coming out on this very topic to give women a blue print on how to do this, and about how to save money. Let’s stay connected to make sure you get a copy.
3WV: What do you mean by, “To go from pain to purpose?” List some steps.
Gwendolyn: To go from pain to purpose simply means everything that has caused you pain at some point in your life can be used for a greater purpose. It is no different from turning lemons into lemonade. There is a lesson or a blessing attached to your pain. In this case we are only talking about the blessings.
- Abused/Battered Woman: Turn your pain into purpose by being a spokesperson to a audience of abused women by giving them hope and showing them how to survive and come out of their abusive relationships.
- Homeless Man: He returns to the shelter and gives back to people who are homeless by volunteering. Another way, he goes on the streets and feed the homeless because he is now in a better position financially, and is no longer homeless. This is how he turns his pain and everything he went through into purpose.
- Abandoned Child: The child grows up and has a family of his/her own, and then, adopt children who were abandoned by their parents or left in foster care; they in turn, give the child a lot of love and care to make them feel special, which will be therapeutic for both of them. This is her way of turning her pain into purpose.
No matter your trial, struggle or story, there is always a purpose for everything. No, it doesn’t feel good when you are going through it, but never allow it to make you lose yourself. Find a way to turn it around for the good. “All things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.”
3WV: What does women empowerment mean to you?
Gwendolyn: Women empowerment means a lot to me. It is absolutely necessary. God said to think on things that are holy, pure, true, lovely and of good report. This is empowerment in a nut shell. He is empowering us through the scripture. If God saw it is necessary, then it must be. I don’t think I would be here speaking to you on the blog had I not been empowered and or uplifted by something or someone. Words have life and this is why God encourages us to speak and think in a positive way. In fact, words can make or break us; and if spoken with empowerment, they can help shift us to the next level.
Women empowerment is simply helping women take control of their lives by helping them to recognize their capabilities and then transforming to accomplish their dreams; thereby, promoting growth, stability, self confidence, and the inspiration to win. I must say, I am all for that!
3WV: Do you have any last words of advice?
Gwendolyn: As a man thinketh, so is he. It is not about what others think of you, but more about what you think of yourself. By your own thoughts, you will perish or be unstoppable. No one is actually better than you. The only difference between you and others is the mindset… the way you think. A last word of advice is to choose your thoughts wisely because they can and will govern your life. Be careful of what you allow to enter you mind. Lastly, always be your true self, no matter how imperfect you are. Never allow people to put you in a box or bash you for not being perfect, only God can judge you. Keep your head up, and stay prayed up with God. If I can push through, so can you! Thanks for listening.
3WV: What contact information would you like to share if someone wants to reach you?
Gwendolyn: My information is as follows:
⇒⇒⇒ For Eagles with Broken Wings:
- Follow on Instagram: @gwendolyn_richie
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Like us on Facebook @Eagles with Broken Wings Inc. (***Inquire to get involved)
⇒⇒⇒ For Shopglavish:
Shop @ shopglavish.com – and give feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org on things you would like to see in the store, as we are growing and adding inventory.
⇒ Subscribe to YouTube @ Gwendolyn Richie – channel will start in the Fall (September 2019)
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