SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
July is Minority Mental Illness Awareness month and former Florida TV anchor Sicily Wilson is using her voice to bring attention to the issue through her nonprofit, WOW (Women Overcoming with Willpower) Legacy Group.
Expanding the program into Tampa Bay, its mission is to empower, support and encourage women transitioning through life’s adversities to reach their true potential.
According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health, 40% of Puerto Ricans experience depression, followed by 20% of African Americans; while one-in-five women experience a mental health condition.
Wilson knows first-hand how living with depression can ruin your life. After an on-air stroke in 2004, she lost her ability to speak clearly; and after intensive speech therapy, Wilson regained her broadcast-quality voice.
From there, her unfortunate experiences continued. Her marriage to her college sweetheart ended in divorce; she was laid off from her broadcast job; she exhausted her savings and lost her home to foreclosure.
Wilson lived silently in a depressed state until a close friend – and Tampa native – Sartura Shuman-Smith, director of the Centre for Girls, came to her rescue.
“My life had fallen completely apart, at no fault of my own,” Wilson said. “Sartura helped to ignite a philanthropic spark, by encouraging me to give back to a group of women in transition.”
It was then Wilson founded the WOW Legacy Group and the Fall into Fabulous (FIF) Empowerment Program in Orlando. Now in its seventh year, the program is expanding into Tampa Bay with its FIF empowerment breakfast and fashion show, thanks to the Ford Motor Company and Macy’s.
Aug. 10 event
Taking place on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8:30 a.m. at Macy’s Westshore Plaza in Tampa, the event will address the important issues of mental health by energizing and engaging thought leaders, who will guide attendees on a journey to renew, refocus and reimagine the possibilities of their life.
As WOW Legacy Group aims to empower, educate, inspire and transform lives of women, the Ford Motor Company and Macy’s both have philanthropic mission to improve the lives of women.
“Ford is all about strengthening communities and empowering women,’’ said Theresa Campbell, Regional Marketing Specialist for Ford Motor Company. “We understand women drive a lot of the decisions and make a big impact in the community. It just made sense to partner with the WOW Legacy Group.”
For more information, visit www.wowlegacygroup.org or follow the organization on Facebook at Fall into Fabulous.