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You Had Me at Hello: rel‘Having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life’’

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Myra and Archie crossed paths inside the UAB Hospital cafeteria in January 1989. “I was working at Children’s Hospital and he was working at UAB,” Myra remembered. She met Archie when he was having lunch with one of her cousins inside the hospital cafe. When she got home, her cousin called to play matchmaker.

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By Je’don Holloway-Talley

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

MYRA AND ARCHIE ARRINGTON

Live: Pleasant Grove

Married: July 30, 1989

Met: Myra and Archie crossed paths inside the UAB Hospital cafeteria in January 1989. “I was working at Children’s Hospital and he was working at UAB,” Myra remembered. She met Archie when he was having lunch with one of her cousins inside the hospital cafe. When she got home, her cousin called to play matchmaker. “As soon as I walked through the door my phone rang and it was my cousin calling me and I said ‘what, that dude want to meet me’ and she said ‘yeah, he sent his number.’”

Archie said, “I was taken by her. She had some of the most beautiful eyes so I couldn’t help but look into her eyes. I could tell she was looking at me also, but I didn‘t want to be too forward [in the moment]… and since I was working with her cousin, I knew I’d get to talk to [Myra] later.”

First date: A few weeks and a couple dozen phone conversations later, the pair went out to a golf place on the south side of Birmingham. “He wore some golf pants and golf shoes and a shirt, and I said to myself ‘uh-uh, he is gonna have to dress better than this’,” Myra said at the time to herself.

Archie remembered Myra wearing a jean dress and it “fitted her quite well,” he said, “and I was doing more looking and paying attention to her than the game…that’s when I noticed she was competitive. She really wanted to win, but I still won,” Archie said. “It was a nice first date, but I knew it wouldn’t be our last… I also had that feeling inside that this one might be the person for me.”

The proposal: Archie remembers it this way: “She asked me to marry her. We had gone out on a date and we came back to her mother’s house and we were sitting in the living room talking on the couch and the conversation was going pretty good, then all of a sudden she said ‘well, when are you gonna marry me?’ And, so, I perceived that as she asked me to marry her,” he laughed.

Myra said that was not a proposal, “I asked him a question,” she said.

“We started talking about it [marriage], our careers and things that we wanted to do, and at the time we had made the decision that we were dating each other and that there wasn’t anyone else was in the picture…,” Myra said. “I did ask him IF he wanted to get married, but he decided that he wanted to. I let him get away with that [his story] because it [their marriage] lasted.”

After their “joint decision” to marry, their families planned everything and the two were married six months after meeting.

The wedding: The wedding was at Old Saint Paul Baptist Church in Bessemer. The colors were peach and cream. Most memorable for Myra “was when my [late] brother John Lee came downstairs to me while I was getting ready and said ‘Burk — that’s what he called me — they love you out there…the church is full.’ That meant a lot because we didn’t actually send out wedding invitations, we were only going to have a reception, but people came out anyway…the church could hold about 300 hundred people and it was full,” she said.

Most memorable for Archie “was seeing her come down to the aisle to the song ‘Love Like This’ by Phil and Brenda Nicholas. As I watched her walk down the aisle … for some reason, my leg started shaking very, very profusely. I wasn’t nervous, but for some reason, that happened. Both of us will never forget that.”

Words of wisdom:  After being married for 31 years (in July), the Arrington’s have learned that forgiveness, and trust in God sustains a marriage. “First thing I learned is to do [in marriage] is forgive,” Myra said. “The second thing I learned is that just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have issues or things that happen in your marriage that may disappoint you, but as long as you got God in your life, and you trust God and hear from God…I’ve learned to listen to him [God] when concerning my husband. I’ve learned to ask for forgiveness for the things that I do as well, and that hollering and throwing things is a sign of immaturity,” Myra said.

Archie said put your spouse first and make sure their needs, desires, dreams and wants are first in your relationship. He also said a “better me makes a better us and sometimes sacrificing yourself and growing to a point where you’re building that person up and making sure that they know your love for them is first place in the relationship.”

The Arringtons still date, Myra said. “We communicate well with each other…

“And having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life,” Archie said.

Happily ever after: The Arringtons have two children, Velencia, 30, which includes their “son in love” [her husband] Alfonso and their two children, Taliyah 10, and Jacoby 7. They also have a 20-year-old son, Jonathan.

Myra, 56, is a Bessemer native and a Shades Valley High School grad. She works as a Loss Prevention Specialist for a local bank. Archie, 56, is a West End native, and a Woodlawn High School grad. He is a patrol lieutenant with Bessemer City Police Department.

This article originally appear in The Birmingham Times

Art

Student Work – Nayzeth Vargas

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

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This piece was created by Nayzeth Vargas, a senior at Oakland Technical High School. The Zentangle Method is a therapeutic technique which uses combinations of contrasting patterns and values to create an image. Students were introduced to the Zentangle Method to offset the mental stress they were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation.  

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

Nayzeth is enrolled in the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project, an integrated arts program that supports youth in developing thoughtful, educated voices for their communities. Though art, youth practice mindfulness and boundless creativity. Enrollment for the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project is open to youth ages 13-18 through AHC, for more information visit ahc-oakland.org/legacy.

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Barbara Lee

California to Receive $3.8 Billion in Federal Cash to Help Childcare Providers

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a childcare crisis on top of a public health crisis. Child-care providers are almost entirely women and 40% are people of color. Providing relief to help keep childcare centers and schools open is critical for our students, parents, educators, and care providers, and is essential to support our country’s economic recovery and build back better.”

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Help is on the way for childcare providers in California — an industry rocked by widespread closures with surviving operators burdened by the weight of sharp increases in their operating costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But those companies offering babysitting and other related services will soon receive an infusion of much-needed monetary aid from the federal government. 

On April 15, the Biden Administration announced the release of $39 billion in direct funding allocated for childcare providers in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law on March 11. California U.S. Congress-member Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) welcomed the President’s announcement. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a childcare crisis on top of a public health crisis. Child-care providers are almost entirely women and 40% are people of color. Providing relief to help keep childcare centers and schools open is critical for our students, parents, educators, and care providers, and is essential to support our country’s economic recovery and build back better.”

According to a September 2020 report compiled by the Center for American Progress, the cost of center-based childcare increased by 47% due to enhanced health and safety requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of home-based family childcare increased by 70%. The report found that these increased costs were driven by the need for more staff and more sanitation supplies to meet COVID-19 protocols.

In this latest round of federal funding for childcare providers, about $25 billion will go toward funding grants through a childcare stabilization fund. Childcare providers can use these grants to help cover fixed costs like rent, make payroll and purchase sanitizing supplies. Another amount, around $15 billion, will be available as emergency funding through the Child Care and Development Fund, to provide childcare to essential workers. Lawmakers are also requiring that childcare providers who receive these funds make financial relief available for families struggling to pay tuition.

Combined with the $10 billion allocated in the December 2020 COVID-19 relief package, and $3.5 billion allocated in the March 2020 CARES Act, the child-care industry has now received more than $50 billion in federal support.

The Biden Administration’s announcement also highlighted the effects that the increased need for childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic have had on women and families of color. As of December 2020, about 1 in 4 early childhood and child-care providers that were open at the start of the pandemic have been closed. 

The affected centers are disproportionately owned by people of color, and their closures have both put women of color out of work, and left families of color without childcare. Also, since the start of the pandemic, roughly 2 million women have left the workforce due to caregiving needs.

On April 20, Lee released an announcement detailing the specific amount of funds available for California’s childcare providers. 

Over $2.3 billion will be given to the Golden State from the child-care stabilization fund, her statement said. Another $1.4 billion is available through flexible funding to make childcare across California more affordable for families, increase access to care for families receiving subsidies and increase compensation for childcare workers.

“I’m pleased to see this funding come through for families and child-care providers in the East Bay and across our state,” said Lee.

In total, California will receive nearly $3.8 billion for providers and families.

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Coronavirus

A Reverend Brings Healing Approach to Domestic Violence Fight

Moore-Orbih, a United Church of Christ pastor, whose career has focused on racial justice and violence against women, hopes to bring a new paradigm to the role, focusing on the intersectionality of factors that can contribute to an abusive relationship, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender and sexual orientation, age, ability, and immigrant identity.

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Combating domestic violence requires a healing-centered approach which doesn’t always remove an abuser from the household nor criminalizes him, said Dr. Aleese Moore-Orbih, incoming director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV). 

“I have never come across a woman who did not want to help her abusive partner. Leaving an abusive relationship is an old paradigm. Women of color want to stay with their partners and want agencies to help the abusive partner break out of their cycle of violence,” said Moore-Orbih in an interview with Ethnic Media Services. “For me, the call has been to help people see one another with all their shortcomings and still love them.”

Moore-Orbih will officially joined the CPEDV team April 19. 

The Partnership, founded nearly 40 years ago, represents over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations and allied individuals across California. The organization has successfully advocated for over 200 pieces of legislation on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children, and it brings a racial justice focus to the issue.

Moore-Orbih, a United Church of Christ pastor, whose career has focused on racial justice and violence against women, hopes to bring a new paradigm to the role, focusing on the intersectionality of factors that can contribute to an abusive relationship, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender and sexual orientation, age, ability, and immigrant identity. 

The Partnership noted in a press release that she “will raise the visibility of the Partnership’s anti-oppression work, move the public discourse, and support policy and community advocacy toward more effective prevention and intervention solutions.”

“People of color already live in an environment that is hostile towards them. Their survival mechanisms are seen as criminal and violent,” said Moore-Orbih, noting the generational trauma of slavery and Jim Crow laws, the continuous murders of young Black men without cause, poor economic conditions and housing insecurity. 

“It is a system that has traditionally tried to kill people of color, who are brought up with generations of disempowerment. When things are out of control most of the time, you attempt to control it, sometimes with violence,” she said.

For Black and Brown men, masculinity is determined by power. “They have spent a lifetime trying to prove their power to their communities and their partners,” she said, noting that Black men have traditionally been underemployed while Black women are often over-employed.

Women have had to do the delicate dance of bringing in the family’s income, raising their children, and pleasing their men.

“For a woman of color, domestic violence may be fourth or fifth on the list of things they have to deal with,” she said. “I can handle him, but this is all the stuff I cannot handle.”

COVID-19 has added an extra layer of pressure for both survivors and their abusers. “Women doing the cha cha cha all these years are quickly learning the flamenco,” said Moore-Orbih. “But this is nothing new. Our communities have been doing the survival dance for decades.”

Domestic violence has spiked alarmingly as victims are trapped at home with their abusers amid lockdown orders during the COVID pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine reported last year that one out of every four women in the U.S. and 1 in 10 men are currently facing abuse from a spouse or intimate partner. At the same time, traditional safety nets have largely been shut down. Domestic violence hotlines have seen a drop in calls as many victims cannot find safe spaces from which to make calls. 

Shelters are closed or operating at full capacity, and thereby cannot take on new clients. Black and Brown victims of domestic violence are less likely to call police because of a mistrust of law enforcement or language barriers.

“When COVID broke, we were all struggling trying to figure out how to provide services,”

said Moore-Orbih, adding that the number of people sent to hotels tripled, as survivors had to quarantine for 14 days before they could be sent to a shelter.

“COVID became another layer of pressure for people who were already drowning in anxiety, fear, and trauma. If a person is trying to save you, you can’t see that,” she said.

Getting a woman out of her home and into a shelter to build self-esteem and self-reliance is just one small piece, said the reverend. “She is not healed.”

Similarly, Moore-Orbih does not support criminalizing perpetrators who must also be healed via the same holistic approach.

An integrative holistic approach must be brought to both survivor and perpetrator, said Moore-Orbih.  “If we are looking to make people whole again, we must address the psyche, the physical ailments, forced immigration, and slavery.”

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