Current City: Granada Hills, CA
Hometown: The Valley! Van Nuys, CA
Occupation: Founder of PLK
DJ, born and raised in the Valley of Southern California, is the founder of PLK Nonprofit, an organization dedicated to bringing communities together through peace, love and knowledge.
Prior to receiving her 501(c)3 status, she graduated from FIDM with an AA in Merchandise Marketing and furthered her education for a BS in International Business from CSULB. Originally, she had aspirations to join the Peace Corps in Africa but life took a different turn and through her experiences, she found her career.
Read on to discover more about DJ's journey.
In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about yourself?
This question is always the hardest and most challenging for me to answer! I am the simplest person ever. You can always catch me daydreaming about creating something that betters humanity and changes mindsets, or simply reflecting. I would consider this simple haha. I noticed that I haven’t changed much as a young girl, just became wiser. As a young girl, I always wanted to travel to learn cultures and understand why we are all here and believe or act the way we do... we (humans) are such an interesting creation. I don’t think I am that far off from pursuing that currently. Anyways, so I am simple, adventurous, analytical, and a joker. I crave experiences that open my mind, challenge my perception, and keep me seeking and understanding myself and relationship with a higher power. I want to put that out there, you can count on me to listen to you, make you laugh, make you think, and always root for you to pursue that feeling where your soul and heart are full!
What’s the origin story of PLK Nonprofit, and what are your goals for the future?
The literal creation of filing and writing the By-Laws came from a dark place in my life. PLK was my dream career though! But the job did not exist anywhere, so I created my career. PLK manifested from a dark and light place for me. It is so beautiful and healing to do what I have always wanted to do and use my dark moments to connect with people as we bring communities together. Everything really is connected, and God’s timing is always on time.
My life started coming together the moment I filed for my 501 (c )3 status and really cared about my life and believed in myself to be happy and create the reality I have always dreamt of. So now we are here! I filed in 2016 and received my status in less than 3 months –super fast – that’s how I knew God was telling me to keep going. A resident in Torrance reached out to me maybe a week after I published my website and was spot on what PLK was trying to do. She was so understanding of the grassroots part and still let me help create the change she wanted to bring to her community in Torrance, CA.
PLK stands for peace, love, knowledge. These words/energies are what pulled me through all of life’s ups and downs, and I wanted to share and help others do the same. That’s why PLK is bringing communities together through the power of their voice because I remember when I didn’t have a voice or understand the importance of loving myself and keeping a peace of mind. It is basically me healing and healing others as well but being who I always felt aligned and saw myself being.
The future of PLK is to sponsor community member’s ideas on the change they want to see in their community. Bring more PLK in this world!
You recently traveled to Puerto Rico to help 10 families. Tell us a little bit about the process (collecting, traveling with all the good, selecting the families) and why you choose Puerto Rico.
Yes, this was my second time going and first PLK community outside of California! This was my trial for what I really want to do worldwide. I faced obstacles such as shipping, unfamiliar areas, language barriers, a different government, culture differences, different time zones, and a new partnership! There was so much growth for me personally and how I will run PLK partnerships in the future.
After leaving Puerto Rico in 2017, I wanted to cancel all my plans to help the people. Instead, I took two weeks of personal time and came back ready to fight, even when people said Hurricane Maria was “too long ago and electricity is almost back on.” Puerto Ricans were dealing with trauma from the tremendous hurricane, and then trauma from how locals and the government were treating each other. That is what people don’t see.
So I reached out to the community members I visited and let them know I wanted to keep my word and bring them what they needed. This was me fulfilling PLK’s vision. Giving power to the people’s voice and creating a change in their community. Therefore, I chose Puerto Rico. It was a perfect community whose voices needed to be heard, and even better to educate the world that the government did not come through with helping the people. We need to make the change we want to see in this world.
Anywho, I met Daisey from my first trip where we helped Puerto Ricans in Action of LA, and we kept in touch. She lives in Puerto Rico and is very active at her church and community. She is always helping her community and helping those that are still affected by Maria by buying extra hygiene items, food, or other supplies they may have needed. That is why I trusted and built a partnership with her to help me pick the 10 families. We spoke about what I was trying to accomplish and she let me know of families that needed help and what they wanted to see.
I created social media posts, an Amazon wish list and spoke with a few donors to help bring the goods over. People reached out to me for donations, and I actually met Lalee (@toomuchidelie) who is from NY and Puerto Rican. She wanted to give me local businesses who could help take donations or give donations. Super Sweet! WeareLightwork came through with donations and spreading the word as well. It was beautiful to see other community members want to help. Thank you, donors- Micayla, Melissa, Maria, and others!
I was in contact with Daisey for the dates I would arrive, so she can gather the PR community to help distribute, and make sure families were home to give the donations. Shipping and buying all the products for the families was such an amazing feeling! Like it is happening! Arriving in PR, I met with my sister who wanted to help me since PLK is a 1 woman show, and we went to Daisey’s house to load up the cars! Meeting these families, seeing their homes and communities still affected by the Hurricane, was the most humbling experience I have felt in a long time. I bought extra light bulbs that are powered by the sun to easily give them some light.
Seeing the big smiles, feeling their energy of relief that they can count on light to see through the dark... was a feeling I cannot describe but am so grateful for all the support and people who let me experience this. Puerto Ricans not only lost their personal belongings and homes, but they also lost a sense of hope in this world. Suicidal rates were at an all-time high after Maria. Thank you everyone for donating and giving some PLK to these families.
In addition to that, you collaborated with Lightwork and put on an event for the women of Alexandria House. Walk us through your workshop and the experience you had with the women.
Christine, founder of Lightwork, let me step out and explore other avenues as a nonprofit! I wanted to step in the mental health realm because the change we want to make in this world starts with us internally.
Seeing a vision come to life, and having the opportunity to sit back and listen to these women answer questions off of a worksheet I created and get emotional over it...felt so grounding. I felt connected with everyone.
As someone who has gone through life’s ups and downs, but also someone who does not communicate emotions openly, I knew to create a safe space and circle talk, it would help me release some fear/pain/etc, and I knew it would help others as well.
The workshop was to gather everyone after getting all beautiful and feeling themselves to being able to reflect and express it. So, I wanted to talk about what PLK means to us. These are 3 powerful words, and I feel a lot of other words derive from them. This is what I do to get through the day and it keeps me grounded.
As the energy changed in the room, to really talk about ourselves and say it out loud to a room of strangers, this was a battle for most and it was so healing and amazing to experience. I also wanted to create an adult coloring worksheet, so they could hang it on their board or keep in their desk when they get lost in life. It is not there yet, but I hope these questions and words released some pain and gained some PLK.
Thank you to the ladies for opening themselves up to us and raising the vibes! We created such a loving and safe space. Thank you Lightwork.
Are there any other events/causes/collaborations you’d like the readers to know about?
Yes, let’s create together! To the readers reading this, let’s make the change together!
Right now, I am securing my position in the Skid Row community as a pop-up Motivation Center. Eventually, I want to create a center that is non-conventional, so no one is denied, and we are all healing and elevating on our journeys.
Also, I am watching a friend create her foundation (ItCouldBeYou) for those in need, and we are feeding off each other’s ambitious energy. We have something planned for early 2019, details coming soon!
What are some of the challenges you’ve hit at this point in your career and how do you navigate through them?
A challenge is understanding the new levels and finding the strength to continue, or the strength to achieve these new levels. Meditation is so important to me because I have so many thoughts from work, family & friends, and sometimes negative thoughts continue to run through my head.
Mediation helps me focus on my breath and being present to take the next step for the day. This is where I reconnect with myself and maintain a relationship with a higher power, my higher self. I know I am going to succeed, but it is all unfamiliar to me so it's mentally challenging to push through the unfamiliar and to let go.
How can individuals get involved with PLK Nonprofit?
Online at www.plknonprofit.org, message me on Instagram @plknonprofit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or show up at one of the sites in Skid Row Los Angeles. I am so open for people who are interested in giving back and or wanting to just talk.
Discuss the importance of paying it forward.
We are all on this Earth for a short time, don’t forget about each other. No one should believe they do not deserve necessities to live, to fulfill their dreams, or to live not knowing their self-worth. Pay it forward with a smile or encouraging comment. It is so important to share that with each other. Paying it forward can be goods, but the exchange of love is what we need to pay forward.
If you could give one piece of advice to young individuals around the globe, what would it be and why?
Never ever stop believing that you deserve the life you want to live. I see so many people in fear of what others may say, living in someone else’s expectations, and putting all their soul driven dreams aside. That is death. You need to be happy and in alignment with who you truly are always.
Who are some of your greatest influences and why?
The universe, it is so magical and interesting, just an abyss of the unknown, but so beautiful. I observe the creator’s creations for inspiration on projects.
What/who are you grateful for?
God, a higher power. Nature for being so dayum powerful and breathtaking. To everyone who is fighting for justice. Thank you.
What does empowerment mean to you?
It means to harness your power and shine from within! When you become aware of this power that you have, you will understand why it is beautiful to empower those who may not recognize it.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
Personal mantras are “You are enough” “you are going to have a great day” “I am open universe for the next step”
A quote that inspires me:
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” ― Jeniffer Lee