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Event to celebrate mothers returns

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After being canceled last year due to the pandemic, the PhenomeMOM Awards is back for the seventh year. Created by local musician Schawayna Raie, founder of the group UpLift Your Sister, the award ceremony will be 11:30 a.m. May 8 at Pipers at the Marrott, 2625 N. Meridian St.

Raie started the program in 2014 to celebrate the stories and sacrifices mothers make and aren’t credited for often enough. The event gives guests the opportunity to speak about their mothers or other loved ones and share stories. While Raie doesn’t have children of her own — though she helped raise several nieces and nephews — she said the event has helped improve her relationship with her mother.

“My mom and I have definitely had moments where our relationship was fractured,” Raie said. “This event has brought us closer. My mother was the first woman I gave the Julia Carson Legacy of Love Award to because I wanted her to know that I remember the greats things from my childhood and all the sacrifices she made, and even though we have moments where we don’t get along, I appreciate her and wanted to uplift her in that moment.”

The Julia Carson Legacy of Love Award, given annually to a woman working to better her community, is this year being awarded to Alicia Ramsey, first lady of New Life Church Indianapolis. Host of the podcast “She Words,” Ramsey shares motivation and spiritual guidance to women around the globe. The Legacy of Love recipient is chosen by the board, but other awards — including a philanthropic award and an award specifically for single mother’s — are all by nomination.

This year, Raie said they have received eight nominations for four awards. However, most guests come for the celebration itself, not the awards. In a normal year, Raie said roughly 60 people are in attendance, creating an intimate environment for loved ones to share stories.

“A lot of our audience members enjoy just being in the atmosphere to soak up that love,” Raie said.

Doshia Fifer has been attending the PhenomeMOM Awards for years, but this year marks the first year she’ll host the event. Fifer said she hopes to encourage women and mothers to keep doing great things for their families and said children need strong moms now more than ever.

“Our youth are dealing with a lot,” Fifer said, “From COVID to violence. I want to tell mothers they were created for this; they can keep moving, and I want to celebrate them.”

This year will be a difficult Mother’s Day for many families here in Indianapolis. In Indiana, over 13,000 families have lost a loved one to COVID-19. While Raie has always set aside a moment to recognize the mother’s who died throughout the year, she knows this year will be painful for many. Instead of the usual picture slide show, Fifer will read aloud the names of women who have died, followed by a prayer.

Raie hopes this recognition will help people heal after a tough year. She’s no stranger to loss — her grandmother died in 2019 — and said the PhenomeMOM Awards that year was difficult to get through without her grandmother in the front row.

“We just want to make everyone reflect on what that person was to them, and to help them realize that they’re still watching over them and their spirit rests within them, Raie said.

The ceremony will include a performance from Raie and a keynote address by Sanithia Chowning. Attendance is limited to 50 people due to COVID-19, masks and temperature checks are required.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

For more information on the PhenomeMOM Awards and to purchase tickets, visit www.upliftyoursister.org.

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