Awesome woman of God and a heart to help others are just some of the ways I would describe Neiki. We met through mutual friends and I just love her spirit. Let’s check out what’s she’s doing and her upcoming event.
LM: Tell us a little about yourself.
NJ: My name is Neiki Jones and I am 42 years old. First and foremost I am a servant of God and there is NOTHING I can do without him. I was born in Alabama and I moved here with my parents in the summer of me going to the 6th grade. We actually moved here from New Orleans! I have a 23-year-old daughter, who is the love of my life. I currently work for Fort Bend County in the IT Department and have been there for nine years. My ten years will be actually this July. Wow, time has really flown by! I have a degree in Organizational Management, minor in Psychology and certification Human Resources. I received my degree from Ashford University. While attending Ashford, I was on the dean’s list and I was in the Honors Society. I like to have fun and I am family-oriented. I am seeking to obtain my Master’s. To be honest, I was 1 class away from graduating with my Master’s and I just stopped. The reason why is because of life issues during that time but I do have plans on going back and if I have to start over, then that is what I would have to do. I believe that one is never too young or too old to achieve a goal or dream. I am in the process of writing my first memoir titled, “When the pieces begin to fit” and I am super excited to share my life in this memoir. I have received several awards based on the services provided by the organization that I have founded and I am so thankful to have been honored. The most rewarding award I received was the Mary McCleod Bethune Service Award in 2016.
LM: Omg!!! Thanks, awesome. Tell us some of the work ventures you’ve done?
NJ: To be honest, every day is a work venture at my current employer. Each day brings about a new or different “adventure”; there is nothing that is the same.
LM: Yes indeed! I know exactly what you mean. What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? What’s your least favorite part?NJ: My favorite part of being an entrepreneur or founder of the organizations are the connections that have come about since starting the organization. The right connections and partnerships are key. Also, learning from other Founders as well. Being an entrepreneur does not mean that all is well because there are times when all is not well. In being a Non-Profit Organization, there is no such thing as “my organization”, it’s the “communities’ organization” therefore, we have to hold ourselves accountable for the services and programs we provide to the community.
Least favorite, at times it can be overwhelming but that is only if you allow it to overwhelm you.
LM: What prompted you to start your nonprofit?NJ: I was prompted to start the organization because I was one that did not believe I was a leader and I let others define me by their words. I struggled with my own self-identity and it was not until I struggled with writing my own performance appraisal. I was so used to “others” writing what they wanted to write about me but I was ok with it because I just wanted a raise. It did not dawn on me that what I was letting them define me and I answered how they viewed me. That was a real eye-opener for me because I did not have one thing to say about myself or the job I performed on a daily bases. The new manager I had at the time really pushed me I mean really pushed me and if it was not right she had me to go back and re-write. It was so challenging and frustrating for me all at the same time. I did not believe that I was a leader because I did not view myself as one, therefore, I was ok with being mediocre (at that time). Then I began to think, how many others might be struggling with 1. Self-identity and 2. Truly knowing their leadership potential. That is when I began to pray and seek God’s guidance and through a friend came up with A.L.A.Y.A Ministries (activating leadership to accomplish your ambitions). We are all equipped to be leaders.
LM: Tell us all about it.
NJ: A.L.A.Y.A was formed in 2009, to equip every human being with the tools of becoming an effective leader in today’s society and assisting with overcoming various obstacles in one’s life. ALAYA stands for activating leadership to accomplish your ambitions. Our mission is to facilitate positive leadership skills among women and girls through the provision of social support, and personal and professional programs and services, thereby unlocking their true leadership abilities and transforming them into effective community leaders. To help individuals unlock their leadership potential we have hosted several workshops that aid in the helping of recognizing their inner leader. A.L.A.Y.A helps everyone! We currently have two programs and those programs are G.O.O.D GIRLS and Women of Jewels. Our program G.O.O.D GIRLS is a mentoring program for girls between the ages of 11-17. G.O.O.D. GIRLS “Going Over Obstacles Daily” that is designed specifically for girls ages 11-17 with the goal of providing tools and resources necessary to recognize, develop and implement their leadership skills. We meet with the girls every 2nd Saturday and 3rd Thursday of every month at the Bayland Community Center located at 6400 Bissonnet St. The G.O.O.D GIRLS program encourages, promotes interpersonal skills, and asserts a sense of hope for the future. Due to repeated failures in today’s classrooms, many of today’s youth and parents have lost faith in the educational system, especially in poverty-stricken communities. For at-risk youths to function and strive towards excellence they require support and outreach. G.O.O.D. Girls provides support and outreach by providing a loving, caring and learning environment that promotes their effort and reinforces personal respect. We also have a support group for women called Women of Jewels. This group was just launched at the beginning of the year and is doing amazingly well. The mission of Women of Jewels is to unite women in leadership as we help them to unlock their power, purpose, and potential through sisterhood. Women of Jewels is designed for all women between the ages of 26 and over who are looking for a safe supportive and judgment-free environment. This program will target women who are in need of a support system that will assist them with daily life issues, help them to find balance, and improve their overall mental health and well-being. The Women of Jewels Program will provide assistance with common issues that women face such as Coping skills, Relationship issues, Women’s issues, Spiritual Growth, Finances, and Health.
LM: I love it!! So many people struggle with these issues. Having an organization such as yours is a blessing.
Tell us about some of the great things you’ve done in the community.
NJ: We have done the following in the community:
Leadership training, Food Drives, School supply drives, mentorship, women wellness services, job placement assistance, assistance with reintroducing into the workforce and college readiness. During Harvey, we sent barrels of hygiene products to Saint Croix. We volunteer at the women cottage with the young ladies in our mentoring program. We also have volunteered at a local senior citizen home.
LM: I love this!!! Why is this important to you?
NJ: This is important to me because I want to see everyone WIN. I believe that God gives us all talents and gifts and we have to use those to gifts and talents to help others. It’s important to me because it involves helping others. Everything that I have gone through in life, God was preparing me for this very moment and I now know, that it was not about me but I was being used by God to help someone else. To know that “my story” can help someone brings me nothing but joy, even though it was a pain. Like the song says Joy and Pain..lol. Building God’s kingdom is the ultimate goal so that is why this is important to me.
LM: What’s your next upcoming event?
NJ: Our next upcoming event is Rise of the D.I.V.A.S. (Devoted to God Inspired by the word Visionary Women Anointed). The event will be held on April 27, 2019, at 3810 W Fuqua at the Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center from 11-3pm. We just hosted a Career Day for Girls between the ages of 11-17 located at 3000 W Fuqua St Houston, TX 77045.
LM: How can ppl purchase tickets?
NJ: Tickets can be purchased by myself or any board member and they are Ahna Walker, Charylene Jackson, Malika Steen, Ernest Beason or Avier Bashey. Also, via our website www.alayaministries.org or cash app $ALAYAMinistries
LM: Awesome!!! Who does this benefit?
NJ: All proceeds from the event go back into the organization as we help those in the community and our mentoring program for the girls.
LM: What are some other organizations you’re involved with?
NJ: I am an advisor for another organization that is located in North Carolina. I am in the works of collaborating with other organizations and we have partnered with Fort Bend County Precinct 2.
LM: Tell me about your family.
NJ: My family was born and raised in Alabama. Both of my parents are professors. My mother retired from HISD but she teaches at a private school, she loves teaching. My father is a preacher(yes I am a PK). My daughter is 23 and she is currently attending HCC then she is transferring to TSU to obtain a degree as a respiratory therapist. My daughter is my only child!!!! I found my birth family last year and we stay in contact.
LM: What is a typical day for you?
NJ: A typical day for me, I get up Monday-Friday and come to work for the Fort Bend County. I work in the IT Department so each day brings about something new, especially in the technology field. I sometimes have meetings scheduled throughout the week and if no meeting scheduled, I go home and relax. I have to clear my head and sometimes I just sit in silence for a few hours. If my daughter is home we spend time together to talk and laugh, there is nothing more precious than spending that time with her because those are times I cannot get back.
LM: What do you do for fun?
NJ: I love going to the movies or sitting on my balcony. I also love to color!!!!!! Watching Netflix is fun to me also!!!!!
LM: What does family time look like and how often do you have that time?
NJ: Family time is my daughter, mother and myself when we are together. We do not have that time often as we should but when we do we enjoy it because we laugh so much!!! They are so fun to be around!!!
LM: Self-care is important especially if you wear many hats. What do you do for self-care? NJ: My self-care consist of me getting R&R. I make sure I keep my nails maintained. The nail shop is so relaxing for me. Turning my phone off is also my self-care and just sitting in silence as I stated before that is my detox of certain energies. I journal and I re-read my journals a lot! Helping others to me is also my self-care. Having a stay-cation with myself is also my self-care.
LM: What’s next for you?
NJ: Finishing my book and having book signings. I have a few business ideas that I will start to implement which will help me to get out of the box. Learning to push myself from what’s been my norm to what is not my norm. Also, looking into expanding the organization by establishing different chapters in different cities. I will also be going back to school to finish that one class (hopefully) to get my Master’s.
LM: How can we stay connected?
NJ: Our website is: www.alayaministries.org