We had the good fortune of connecting with Bethanee Epifani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bethanee, so given all the recent changes to how we live our life given the crisis, have you had any interesting epiphanies?
One Epiphany that came to me happened last weekend — Mother’s Day Weekend– while I was out at a grocery store. I was doing service work with a small group of people and our goal was to distribute free gift cards to shoppers to help them purchase their groceries. I was doing service work in a low-income neighborhood that was predominately Black. I was excited and eager to be of service, and I thought giving away free gift cards would be an easy task to complete. However, it proved to be a bit more challenging than I expected. I went to up to various shoppers and let them know that my service group and I were distributing free gift cards to help shoppers purchase food during COVID-19 and that they were invited to take one and use it. I was received with long stares, hesitation, and confusion — like I had two heads. You would’ve thought I was speaking a foreign language. A couple people kindly told me “no”, a couple more people took the gift cards with caution. One woman told me “no” and I responded by saying “Ok, no problem. Happy Mother’s Day”. I proceed to walk away when a woman I had previously given a gift card to, walked up to the other woman and vouched for me by saying, “I got my free gift card, if you want one, you should get one too.” The woman who had declined my offer yelled out for me to come back. When I get to her she says, “I don’t have to pay for this???” This is a question I got from a few shoppers. I assured her she did not have to pay for anything and the money was free for her to use if she wanted it. The woman said, “Yes, of course! Thank you so much!………….. Why are you doing this?!??” Her question garnered the attention of other women who were shopping next to her. I said, “Because we need it, and we deserve it.” The women responded with appreciation. My epiphany was : In our world, especially in our country, people are suspicious of generosity. And who could blame them!? We live during a time where “you can’t get something for nothing”. The act of giving without expecting anything in return is a foreign concept when, in actuality, it’s apart of our natural inclinations. As humans we are kind and we are giving, but unfortunately we have been disconnected from this part of our humanity. The act of giving has been diluted with “terms and conditions”, cruelty, and debt. If anything, this Pandemic should motivate us to act on our humanity and be the givers that we are. We are here to be of service to each other after all. So give! Let’s remind each other that kindness does exist and that generosity can come without “terms and conditions”.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am a motivational speaker, author, and educator. I speak to high school and college students, and I share vital life principles of self-love, self-determination, and self-actualization. My desire to share and uplift comes from my own past emotional and mental struggles. Now having overcome those obstacles, I am passionate about sharing what I have learned with others in an effort to empower and equip them to overcome and/or completely by-pass potential stumbling blocks. A lot of the topics I speak about stem from my book, “My Quarter-of-a-Century Life Lessons”, where I speak about the dangers of comparing yourself, how to discover your passion, the power of positivity, surrounding yourself with the right crowd, life during and after college, etc. My second book, “Don’t Fall Prey!” is a dating book for women (and men) that focuses on themes of self-worth and self-love and really tailoring your dating life to what fits you best. My workshops are youth-based and focus on self-development, public speaking, goal setting, healthy dating, and healthy body image for teenage girls. My journey has not been easy. If you want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a lawyer you know what steps you have to take to get there. But how in the world does one become a Motivational Speaker?! I struggled with the “How” — How was all of this going to happen? What were the necessary steps? I had no idea. I promoted my business and my services but it was difficult to get a response. It was frustrating. I was not good at marketing myself and making myself visible to those who were seeking my services. I had to learn how to reach out to schools and organizations and to not be bashful about promoting myself. As my mom always said, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” I had to squeak lol. I had to be persistent and intentional about putting myself out there. If you don’t let people know what you do, then how will you get hired to provide your service? So marketing and promoting is an area I am continuously growing in. And the biggest struggle I dealt with was internal. There were moments when I doubted whether or not I should continue down this path at all because it just felt like such a big mountain to climb. Fortunately, I have great people in my life who believe in me and cheered me along on the days when I found it difficult to encourage myself. What I want people to know about my story is that I am authentically and unapologetically myself. I am honest about my mistakes and never set myself apart from the audience that I am speaking to/sharing with. I am proud that I have evolved to this point of self-love and celebration and I am proud of the positive impact I am having on the young people I interact with on a weekly basis.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout my mother, Flo Jenkins, who has played an integral part in my success. I would not be who I am and where I am without my mother’s love, sacrifice, and encouragement. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams and uplifted me during my darkest moments — not to mention she edited both of my books for me. I hope to become half the woman she is. I would like to shout-out my brothers for their unwavering support. I would like to shout-out all the members of my tribe. You know who you are! These people have been there to listen to me and have given me the space and permission to fall apart and have been there to piece me back together with love.
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