Justyn Iman, CEO/founder of Laces to Bows (Courtesy photo)
Justyn Iman, CEO/founder of Laces to Bows (Courtesy photo)

A fledgling mentoring program ran by a 23-year-old D.C. native will host this weekend a special event geared toward women and girls enduring cancer.

The Sunday, Oct. 22 event, “You Can’t Brunch with US,” will be held by Laces to Bows at the Cultural Riverside Center in Northeast from 6-9 p.m.

Championing the beauty of womanhood for girls ages 7-18, this year will mark the organization’s first time holding the special event.

“My nonprofit mentoring program serves the purpose of teaching young ladies how to turn their lives from laces into bows,” said Justyn Iman, CEO/founder of Laces to Bows. “What this means is that we give young girls the proper tools to educate, inspire and evolve themselves throughout their lives.”

Sunday’s event will feature speeches from Tia Brown, CEO/founder of the Dare To Dream Foundation, Shalita Lyons, a breast cancer survivor, and Yolanda V. Cook, director of Black Enterprise.

Iman said she was inspired to hold the event by her best friend Tamia, who is currently battling breast cancer and dealing with the loss of her 3-year-old son to another form of cancer two years prior.

“Women with any form of cancer to me are the ones who are really putting up the real fight,” Iman said. “I mean, you have these young, business-minded women with families waking up every day trying to make sure they can survive for their kids.

“A lot of people, including myself, often fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as victims whenever something goes wrong, but there are real people out here with even bigger issues and real problems,” she said.

Founded in 2012 when Iman, then 18, desired to make a difference, the organization deals with topics concerning poverty, education, adolescents living in shelters, health issues, nutrition and family services.

The program also assists in back-to-school efforts and is currently orchestrating a “Girls Tour” in Maryland, in which Laces to Bows workers and volunteers take groups of young girls on college tours throughout the state.

“Growing up the way I did in D.C. constantly reminded me that I did not just want to be another statistic,” Iman said. “I wanted to really impact my community and present a platform to say ‘let me thank you, let me be the one to honor you’ to everyday girls who made not hear that enough, yet continue to press forward.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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