Suffolk group helps women achieve more

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Suffolk organization is providing women the resources they need to become better leaders in their communities and also grow spiritually.

Elaine Lankford founded Transforming Love Ministries in May 2016. The nondenominational ministry provides spiritual growth and leadership development for women throughout Hampton Roads through classes, mentorship and peer support.

“It’s all about the transformational process we go through when God loves us,” founder Elaine Lankford said. “That’s why it’s called Transforming Love Ministries.”

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The group will begin holding free, public Bible study sessions at 7 p.m. April 24 at Suffolk Christian Church on North Main Street. The roughly 90-minute sessions will be held every other Tuesday, Lankford said.

“We invite all women from all backgrounds and denominations to add to that roundtable discussion,” she said.

Lankford personally helps women realize their personal goals and design their “actions plans” for achieving them. She is a John Maxwell Group-certified coach for leadership skills.

“We can discuss their goals and lead them along the track of how they’re going to get from where they are now to where they want to be,” she said.

The group has helped women through extreme hardships, like Candice McDaniel, 38.

A fire occurred in McDaniel’s Norfolk residence on Dec. 18 and destroyed all of their possessions, including the Christmas gifts McDaniel had purchased for her kids. All the family had left were the clothes they were wearing.

“I was shocked,” said McDaniel’s oldest daughter, Jaelin, 17. “I’m still kind of shocked.”

Things were already difficult for the family even before they lost their home. McDaniel is a single mother of three teenagers, Jaelin along with her son Josiah, 14, and youngest daughter Kennedy, 12. She’s been a full-time administrative assistant for the city of Norfolk for nine years. She’s struggled for years to keep up with bills, and Christmas mornings were typically sparse.

She took her kids and moved into her parents’ two-bedroom residence in Norfolk. Those first few days after the fire were marked with confusion and hopelessness, she said.

“I was just going through the motions,” she said. “When reality set in, I wondered what I could do to make sure we could have what we needed.”

McDaniel was already a member of the TLM Sisterhood, a Facebook group that allows women to help each other.

“It’s an easy way for women all over the community to connect,” Lankford said.

McDaniel contacted Lankford about her crisis and shared her situation with the group.

Monetary donations were made within a week of the first post, Lankford said. A few women donated about $500 between them. Some women even handmade Christmas gifts for the family, such as Chesapeake resident Ann Bronson.

“She took the time to make three satchels for each of Candice’s kids,” Lankford said about Bronson. “She also put personal items in each of those satchels.”

Each satchel was monogrammed with the children’s names.

“I use it all the time,” Jaelin said.

The GoFundMe page for McDaniel was shared on the Facebook page and has received $1,415 as of Monday. Each of McDaniel’s kids received a Target gift card to spend on themselves. Jaelin bought herself new clothes, while her brother has enjoyed his new video game system.

“They got a lot of good stuff, because the ladies supported us so much,” McDaniel said. “The kids pretty much had a better Christmas than they did last year.”

The family even enjoyed a fun afternoon as a family thanks to a Dairy Queen gift card.

“My youngest went overboard and got a large sundae and my son got ice cream and a pretzel,” McDaniel said with a smile.

The family is in the process of moving into a new home in Norfolk and continues to receive support from members. Some have donated new curtains, while others bought tables and chairs.

McDaniel said she’s astonished by how much support her family has received from people she’s never even met.

“You don’t this expect this much from a group of strangers, but that’s what they did,” she said.

TLM is organizing the She Steps Forward women’s conference next March. Visit elainelankford.com for more information.