We had the good fortune of connecting with Chia Morgan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chia, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
Service is the rent we pay for living. This is a quote that sticks by me because the work I do in the community is so vital but it can be tiring and frustrating but this quote reminds me of my why in the moments that I need some self-encouragement.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets me apart from others in both my activism and career is that I know “it’s a God thing”, none of the doors that have opened or work I am doing would be possible without His blueprint. The Thanksgiving dinner, Blessed to be a Blessing that I started in my city in 2009 was a dream God gave me and allowed me to wake up remembering the details so I could move from dream to execution. The passion that drives me to serve others is another thing, it is my core belief that those of us who were born into happy and fruitful circumstances have a duty to try to level the playing field for others and I strive to do that daily. Being 22 and entering the role of community activism and leadership was never easy, I had to compete with ageism, establish myself as a trusted name with both the community and funders and I had to, in a sense create my own lane. I overcame those challenges by being my authentic self and people loved that! I would take my sense of humor, my vernacular- even my colloquials into meetings and I was always true to who I was, one time I even had our mayor come to meet me in a local “hole in the wall” bar.
I was never afraid to tell people that I have friends who sold drugs, I have friends who have been killed before we turned 18 and I want to try to do something about that for the next generation. I don’t think funders saw someone who was so willing to own their truth and still try to serve, I was not coming in saying we need to change the violence, I came in saying I was affected by it and I need money for programs. My passion and my friend’s stories went into many grant proposals that allowed me to create a family fun and resource day aimed at reducing violence. I was the first to bring HIV testing right to the inner city park, to bring the Michigan State Police to hang out with kids and their families and to offer hair cuts for kids of all ages. These things alone may not curb violence but they plant seeds into youth to let them know they matter and they help single mothers see that the village is still in tact and there is help for you/your children.
In building the food pantries, I used my social work background to identify hotspots around the city that were most affected by the food desert. I was able to take the stories of those I worked with to both funders and contractors to show the need for them because it was something new and people were looking at me like, ok Chia we trust you but you want to build pantries outside in the community and expect it to survive a Michigan winter, I was like “yep”. Having people trust your judgement even in moments of question is something that helps you through the challenges and your own nervousness of creating new lanes to serve the city and its residents.
Throughout the process of creating Blessed to be a Blessing, the family fun and resource day as well as the food pantries, I learned that some people will work with you for support of your vision, passion and work and others will try to attach to the work to make a name for themselves but going back to authenticity, I learned that it will take you further than anything, both with funders, partners and those you serve. I want the world to know that I am just a girl from the Northside of Flint who will tirelessly serve my city with God as the foundation to everything I do and touch.
On the business side, establishing myself as a (mobile) Notary Public actually came with the least challenges. My name had already been established in the community as a person with integrity so people didn’t mind trusting me to know their sensitive family business, to see their social security number on documents or to come to their home. I have been able to connect with so many families and while my notary services are at a cost, it is just an extension of the work I have already done to serve others, even if it’s just giving them a listening ear!
Lastly, as a therapist, there is a looming mental health crisis and from my work in the community, I know that people are hurting. My biggest challenge comes from trying to break the stigma associated with mental health, particularly in the black community .The crack era, the Flint water crisis, the food desert, gun violence and family trauma are all things that my city is dealing with and getting information out about the importance of managing mental health and not making fun of people who seek treatment is an ongoing challenge, but we will persevere!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The whole city is my favorite spot, lol, words can never express how much I love Flint, MI.
If we are going to eat, I am taking you to the Yum Vittles, LLC food truck for some tacos or their seafood boil bags. My other favorite spot is 501 Bar & Grill, you can likely find me there any day, afternoon or weekend, I think they should make me a brand ambassador because I have had almost everything on their menu. I “heard” they have good martinis too! Since it’s a week long trip, we would also have time to spend Taco Tuesday at La Familia, that’s like a rite of passage when visiting Flint.
Mott Park is one of the most beautiful places and I would probably just go sit there to chill and hang out to people watch. Families from all over go there to play on the playground, enjoy the soccer fields, tennis courts and just to have their family barbecues. Rubes is a bar that gets a bad rap for the things that happen outside of it but we are going right there! I don’t hang out much but when I do, I go in there to enjoy the family atmosphere inside, talk politics and community with their owner and get the fried chicken or fish!
Church is very important to me and I think I have been graced with one of the best pastors ever- my dad, Will Morgan at Pentecostal Temple Apostolic Church! Not only is he going to ensure we have a good word but the members are friendly and one of them owns a restaurant and sometime we get surprised with after church pound cake.
The “Flint sign” in downtown Flint is a must visit too for a photo and over to the Bedrock Store for some 810 gear as your souvineir! I really don’t leave my house too much so while these are my go to spots, there is so much cool stuff to see in the city- the library, the Flint Institute of Arts, Sloan Museum are all cool too, it’s really something for everyone to enjoy.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to my family; they are my why! All of my life, I have seen my parents give back and serve others with no complaints. My dad is a pastor and (retired) GM worker who has never been too affluent to serve anyone. My mother took an early retirement from GM to raise me and subsequently care for her her mother, father in law, brother, and father in their ailing moments. My biggest shout out goes to my daughter who has not only been with me during moments of operating my business but the front lines of community advocacy- with no complaints.
Facebook: Chia Morgan Professional Services
Red shirt (Alexandria Chrisele Photography) Therapy is Cool (Reginald Todd Photography)