Sophia Strother, a sexual assault survivor, mother, entrepreneur, and woman of faith, is passionate about helping communities of color fight against Covid. After having over 10 family members directly affected by these unprecedented times, the entrepreneur decided that she needed to spring into action.
Sophia formed Meraki (Greek for doing something with soul, creativity & love) Medical Associates LLP to create access to the covid vaccine, testing, and other health awareness for communities of color. She is taking matters into her own hands to be the fruit! Sophia is passionate about helping others through faith, knowledge, and resources. This entrepreneur also hosts the annual Juneteenth “Family Fun Day”, a logistics company, and more in continued efforts to support her community.
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Sophia.
Tammy Reese: In what ways does advocacy for the Covid vaccine benefit the Black Community from your perspective?
Sophia Strother: Advocating for transparency, facts, and accountability is essential for the black community when it comes to the medical field. In a country where life and death are in the hands of those that built communities to fail by eliminating access to hospitals, highways, grocery stores, and banks; we must advocate for ourselves. Launching Meraki Medical Associates is my small part in that quest to eliminate barriers that lead to our health disparities.
Tammy Reese: If you don’t mind answering, have you got the vaccine? If so, what was it like for you?
Sophia Strother: Yes, I’m fully vaccinated. This virus hit close to home with my family and being vaccinated was the best course of action.
Tammy Reese: As someone who has family personally affected by Covid what would you like to say to our readers to stay healthy and safe?
Sophia Strother: I understand being hesitant given our history with the medical and scientific community. They habitually misused our trust and have taken advantage of our disparities. However, I’ve seen the effects of COVID-19 within my family first hand so whatever steps I can take to add another layer of protection for them and me; I’m willing to do. We take risks daily to protect our families. Such risks include allowing our children to get annual vaccines, taking the flu shot, or taking medications that can have serious adverse reactions.
Our faith isn’t solely in the medicines or the vaccinations, our faith is in the assurance we are taking all necessary precautions based on the information available at the time to protect our loved ones. As the US starts to relax mask mandates and social distancing it doesn’t mean people have stopped contracting and dying from the disease. Getting vaccinated is a small act of faith in protecting those you love, including yourself.
Tammy Reese: Please tell us about your role with Juneteenth Family Fun Day?
Sophia Strother: I’m the co-founder of Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Brazos Park East in Waco TX. My nonprofit Empowerment Driven by Knowledge Coalition (EDKC) and 94.5 The Beat has partnered annually since 2011 to host this wonderful event. We are now the largest event in a 200-mile radius from Dallas – Austin celebrating African Americans’ freedom and appreciating their heritage. Juneteenth Family Fun Day @ Brazos has touched over 35,700 lives since its inception in June 2011 with an average of 5,000 attending annually and raising thousands of dollars dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness and Economic Development in Waco.
Juneteenth Family Fun Day @ Brazos showcases a Health Zone, MEGA Kids Zone, and Community Zone all while having LIVE Entertainment and social services/screenings available to all participants. We boast of being the largest public event supporting the positive image of African Americans and minorities in Central Texas. We’ve been featured on radio, television, and more recently featured in Ebony a national magazine for the value we place on putting FAMILY & HEALTH first!
Tammy Reese: What does Juneteenth mean for you?
Sophia Strother: Honestly, Juneteenth is another reminder of delayed freedom. I was born and raised in Springfield, Mass, and didn’t learn about Juneteenth until I moved to Waco TX in 2009. It wasn’t taught in school and no one on the East coast celebrated it. Juneteenth is a reminder that WE MUST support and acknowledge our own. Being able to value our own significance in this country is absolutely essential.
It took over 2 years for southern slaves to realize they were freed and decades more before this milestone was acknowledged by other states. However, it’s still not a national holiday. So we press on pushing to celebrate and promote the beauty, intelligence, and authentic attributes of our community.
Tammy Reese: It’s mental health awareness month, what are some of your best self-care practices?
Sophia Strother: Some of my best self-care practices are saying no. As a survivor, for years I dealt with feeling like I was currency and everything was transactional. Surviving trafficking and domestic violence have been a journey of discovering my true identity and reevaluating my value. In that process I discovered, Sophia was more than currency and a transaction. I discovered I’m worth saying ‘no’ to toxic relationships whether they were family members or intimate partners.
I’m worth saying ‘no’ to being consumed by my businesses that I never have quiet or quality time alone or with those that love me unconditionally. I discovered I’m worth saying ‘no’ to negative stereotypes surrounding therapy in the black community and started going faithfully. We are worth saying ‘no’ to things that hinder our growth emotionally and mentally.
For more info please connect on Facebook @merakimedicalassociates or visit www.sophiastrother.com
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Multimedia Creative and Personality Tammy Reese is an award-winning Writer and Journalist. Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women's Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She is also the Founder and Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.