10 free to be meSaturday, Aug. 4, at 9 a.m., radio hostess Rev. Felicia Thompson will host the Free to Be Me Empowerment Symposium at Simon Temple AME Zion Church. Thompson is partnering with FTM, Inc., a nonprofit organization designed to help people realize their full potential through the help and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This year’s symposium, which is themed “Free to Soar,” will encourage men and women to recognize what holds them back, break free from those things, and move forward to achieve their dreams and aspirations while being free to be themselves.

This empowerment symposium was inspired eight years ago by a discussion Thompson had with a pastor’s wife who Thompson hosted on her radio show. Her show is, like the symposium, titled “Free to Be Me.” Thompson started her show to encourage, inspire and inform her listeners and the community, so the symposium was a natural progression of that goal. She said she wants to help the community “realize their gifts and talents, and network with one another. Then, there is nothing we all can’t do as a community in Cumberland County together.”

This is the second annual empowerment symposium. The keynote speaker will be Pat Smith, wife of football player Emmitt Smith. Guest speakers include Cheryl Fortune, an up-and-coming gospel singer; Gina V. Hawkins, Fayetteville chief of police; and Dr. Deon Faillace, the first female general surgeon in Fayetteville.

Each woman has experienced adversity in various aspects of her personal or professional life and will share stories of how she went through those challenges and came out stronger on the other side.

In between speakers, guests will get a chuckle from comedian and host Chris Petty. There will also be light hors d’oeuvres, several giveaways and a vendor showcase for guests to browse. The event also gives attendees a chance to network and meet new people.

At noon on Thursday, Aug. 2, Thompson’s weekly radio show, “Free to Be Me,” which airs on WIDU 1600AM, will have a special treat for listeners. During the live show, Thompson will give away free tickets for the empowerment symposium and will host a few of the event speakers, giving listeners a teaser of the discussion topics to come that Saturday. Previous guests and speakers will also call in during the show to talk more about the previous and upcoming symposium.

“I pray that after leaving the Free to Be Me Empowerment Symposium, people feel more free and more liberated to be who they are in operating their gifts and talents,” Thompson said.

She has high hopes and prayers that every attendee will feel more empowered, encouraged, inspired and informed. She said she hopes that when they leave they go out into their communities and be themselves, refusing to be held back from achieving every goal they set for themselves in their personal and professional lives.

To learn more, or to register for the event, visit www.revfelicathompson.com.

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