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Here's how one of 60 businesses is benefiting from the latest round of Black Empowerment Works grants

two women and a child taking a selfie
Their Voice of Greater Cincinnati
Their Voice of Greater Cincinnati Founder and Executive Director Tammy Floyd-Westmoreland with respite recipient, Lori, and grandson, Ryan.

United Way's Black Empowerment Works program this week announced the third year of grants supporting Black-led projects and programs. Sixty grantees will share in $1.3 million, with grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.

The full list of recipients can be found here.

United Way says a panel selected the 60 awardees from 215 applications. Eighteen are repeat recipients from either 2020 and/or 2021, according to a release.

"The work selected will provide a range of services to improve health, education, employment and economic well-being. The 2022-2023 class of 60 grantees includes a mix of community coalitions, nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses and individuals," the statement says.

How one recipient is making a difference

Tammy Floyd-Westmoreland is founder and executive director of Their Voice of Greater Cincinnati. Her non-profit organization provides resources and support for families affected by cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting muscle tone, movement and posture. It's caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain.

She launched Their Voice in 2018, inspired by her son, D'Jonte (Tae), who was born with cerebral palsy and died in 2011 at age 15. After his passing, Floyd-Westmoreland says she was trying to figure out her purpose in life.

"I realized that it was for me to be the voice he never had," she recounts.

"I didn't get the support and the resources that I needed to properly care for not just him, but for myself. I want to make sure that my caregivers and families have a safe place to come where they can get the resources that they need, so that they can continue to be great parents, great caregivers, so that they can take care properly of the child with CP."

The non-profit offers a respite care program that provides nurses and aides who can go into a home and help out caregivers, giving them a break and time to take care of themselves or run errands.

"These funds," she says of the Black Empowerment Works grant, "help us provide the funds for the aides and nurses to go in. It's free for our caregivers so that's one less stress they have to worry about."

This is the second time Their Voice has been awarded a Black Empowerment Works grant.

Floyd-Westmoreland says the organization currently supports eight to 10 families. It's entirely funded by grants and fundraising. She's hopeful the grant will help her provide more respite care hours and reach more people.

"We talk so heavily in the world now, in society, about mental health, and people don't realize the stressors of caring for a child with special needs — having a child who depends solely on you. You're trying to be not just a mom or a dad, but ... you have to work, you have to pay bills, you have to provide for your families."

She says some of the families Their Voice supports have multiple children with medical diagnoses.

In addition to providing respite care, the organization offers self care programs, help with things medical insurance won't cover such as diapers and wipes, cleaning services, and assistance with getting home modifications.

There's also a birthday giving fund in honor of Tae and Floyd-Westmoreland's husband's son, Jordan, who also died with CP. It sends birthday gifts to children around the world in September and November (Tae was born in November and Jordan in September).

"It's very important for me to make sure I'm touching these families because I didn't get that, my husband didn't get that," she explains. "It means a lot when I'm able to give them a gift, and they send me the pictures and how happy and the smile that's on the kid's face and how they're lighting up because they just had a birthday gift of something that they really liked."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.