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Mary Alice Boyd

Born on 11-9-1953. She is accomplished in the area of Community.
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This is a very different bio-sketch. I have Mary Alice's permission to present it as a dialogue we have had since she was first hospitalized at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care.

She was born Mary Alice Boyd on November 9, 1953. I am the fifth child of Mary Alice Walker and Richard Allen Boyd. Four years later came Ledonia, three years later came Richard and Regina who were twins and three years later Samuel. He was the baby and the last of nine children. Mother was sick at my birth with tuberculosis. I was whisked off to a foster home in Angola. I lived with Mama LaDonia and Daddy Bob. They had other foster children of which I was the youngest. Within this process of transition, I missed the opportunity to bond with my mother. Since then, this has been a huge problem between us. Today, the crystals have had a cleaning. Two days ago I spoke with my mother in a way that seemed to create a tsunami of healing and renewal.

I was mis-educated and learned to read late in life. As a young woman, I felt inadequate in the intellectual world. I longed to add to the ebb and flow of shared knowledge and did not understand how to get in the loop. My life up til now has been one disappointment after another. Of late, however, the magic of the Universe has spilled into my being. I was kicked out of school at age 16 and got a GED in 1973. I went to University at Buffalo in 1975 and graduated with a B.A. in 1980. I floundered about for twelve years teaching myself to be a better reader. I went back to the University at Buffalo in 1992 and acquired a Master of Social Work in 1995. I went to work for a short tour at Geneva B. Scruggs; AIDS Community Services, Child and Family Services, Work Force Development Consortium and the Community Action Organization all of which proved to have little compatibility for me. The only exception was AIDS Community Services.

In AIDS Community Services, for the only time in my work life, I stepped into my work wings and took flight. My job title was Community Educator. I was earmarked to educate the community around the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases throughout the counties of Western New York. The work was a great process unmatched by any work opportunity extended to date. However, the pay was not up to my educational acquirements. Still, I worked the job for two years and two months. This was the single most growth opportunity of my work life. I was allowed to create outlets and avenues that lent themselves to life changing growth and renewal.

The area of HIV/AIDS was a hold back because of the close ties to homosexuality and sexual behavior actions, especially as they pertain to the African American community. I built alliances with colleges, community centers, Group Ministries and many other agencies that made for uncomfortable situations in my professional position. On the other hand, I worked for a CEO that everyone loved to hate. However, his style and approach lent itself to continued success in his undertakings.

He was approachable and stayed on his own missions. Anyone working for him had to be mindful of stepping stones and needed to keep unsightly public appearances checked. Still too, growth opportunity generally fell under the sky is almost the limitÃ?Æ?Ã?¢Ã?¢ââ?¬?Ã?¬Ã?â??Ã?. I say this because if a task could be accomplished upon a bridge I built, then my positioning and stance would not matter, good or bad. This was a boon and a bust. However, the honesty and drive of the CEO of AIDS Community Services was not to be matched and left me with a deep sense of respect and adoration for this man. He did things that many times left me very unsettled and feeling on the outside of things, however, it's the stuff that continuous giants are made of and I grabbed hold of these pieces. I say everything I have become since has been in God first and exposure to the activities and opportunities at AIDS Community Services. My work experiences have continued to be basic non-self serving endeavors, leaving me high and dry. Unfortunately, I was not respected for the talents I possessed.

With the advent of breast cancer, I have at least seen in myself the true social worker/client balance. Today I know for certain that I am good with my craft and can open the trails of glory to those I am allowed to serve.

Mary Alice is a long time member of the St. John Baptist Church. Her sister Sarah Brown, who is deceased was choir master and sang beautifully. Mary Alice continues the musical tradition as a percussionist with the St. John Baptist Music Department. She is the first female to hold this position and her work as a percussionist has blossomed into a ministry of love and devotion. Her choice of drums is the congas and the Jembe and other ancillary percussion instruments. Often-times she plays solo on the congas.

She is also the co-founder of the unique African American women's creative outlet group called Daughters of Creative Sound. Mary Alice has always loved music and the drum captured her heart not just for music but as a tool in the realm of worship. Mary Alice views the rhythm of the drum as not only life giving but spiritual as well. The Daughters of Creative Sound have presented at numerous affairs throughout Buffalo and Western New York. A number of the members of the group are also Uncrowned Queens, e.g., Karima Amin and Sharon Holley. The primary goal of the group is to be instrumental in the healing of the female psyche and to spread love and cheer. The group consists of nine women, eight drummers and one technician. The music from the group can be described as a soul-felt expression of female creativity and healing for women.