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Baltimore’s Most Inspiring Stories

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Rich Rocket

Rich Rocket’s creativity unleashed. Growing up with very humble beginnings, Rich learned at a very young age how to resourcefully make something from nothing. Expression was second nature to Rich, even tho social normality and small-town mentality keep his creativity at bay for most of his adolescence. After high school, Rich began his journey into higher education and self-exploration. He began working various jobs, to fuel his creative ambitions. In college, he would get his first dose of event production and hosting. He went on to host over 30 events in his short-lived college career. Embracing his Journalism major, Rich also began writing for several local publications varying from print to web. He also ventured into local television, where he produced and hosted two Seasons of a public access show Reformed TV. During this time he also became aware of his graphic design ability. Originally out of necessity, Rich developed a love and passion for bringing visual concepts to life. After a bought with a former employer, Rich was thrust into entrepreneurship. He made the decision to capitalize on his many talents instead of putting them to work for a company that would only replace him. Read more>>

Christian Nwosu

I have always loved photography. I grew up in a military family and I was constantly being moved away from places, people, and schools I had grown to love. My Mom purchased a Kodak disposable camera for me to take final photos of my home and my friends and I fell in love. I ran through so many disposable cameras so eventually, they purchased a point-and-shoot for me and I was hooked. I took it everywhere I could and documented our travels all around the world, my friends, our family, food, and more. I was completely annoying my family says. Years went by and I finished high school, went onto college, and graduated. During this time, I strayed away from formal photography but I was always the person taking photos even with my phone. After college, I worked in the ER for a few years. One day, I was notified that I had won an award for superior service to our patients. I had the choice between an Apple iPad and a Nikon D3200. Take a stab at which I chose! THE NIKON OF COURSE!. Read more>>

Mary Kaye DiUbaldo

I grew up in Western Maryland in a small town called Westernport. I went to High School and Community College in Cumberland. I took a summer internship in Baltimore, fell in love, and never looked back. Six months later, I moved to Baltimore permanently and I have lived here ever since. The “boy” I moved here for, is now my husband of 38 years. The summer internship I had was at a non-profit and I have dedicated my life to non-profit life ever since. None of it was really planned but somehow it all worked out. Read more>>

Mary England

I started my own business to inspire self-love through creativity and Merriment, after leaving my job at a psychiatric rehab center after five years. My own mental illnesses had consumed me, and I decided to take control, which at the time looked like starting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a dedicated gratitude practice. Over time, I started to see space left in my mind. That space made me realize I didn’t need to be a walking symptom, and I could use the time where I might have taken an hour in the bathroom for an OCD ritual, I could create something with my hands. So I did! I started creating things, feeling better, and spreading joy. These are all things I did as a kid. I started documenting it, and that blog ultimately led to the business I bring you today. Read more>>

Kia Coady

I, Dj Co have defeated most odds of the DJ game in just six short years. With a love of music since I was five, residing in Baltimore, Maryland, I started djing on my phone in 2012. A couple of years later, I decided to take djing seriously, changing the game. When I was about 10 years old, I use to just make fun of CDs, blending them without any dj equipment insight. I would use the CDs my mom bought for me from Amazon, Columbia House & BMG music club & make different types of CDs. An all old school CDs or an all R&B CD, etc. & they would be so connected in a way. When I got old enough to order the music myself I then got more addicted to the art of music. I got a Professional DJ Controller in 2015 & started, practicing with the controller & promoting herself daily with videos of me mixing on social media. I, then, got my first real paid dj gig doing a wedding in September 2015. From there, the light shines bright for me. Read more>>

Raff Alpha

My story started from a teenager listening to old-school hip-hop like 90s hip hop. I heard “Illmatic” by Nas and I wanted to be an MC. From that point on I started chasing the dream. The whole journey has helped me grow significantly as a human being. through it all, God has guided me through the toughest obstacles and allowed me to be where I am today. Read more>>

Diana Gray

At Pawsense, our lives are dogs. We play with dogs, train with dogs, talk about dogs, talk to dogs, cuddle with dogs, read about dogs, sing to dogs, and watch movies with dogs. We plan trips around our dogs, spend holidays with our dogs, make and buy our dogs birthday gifts and built a homemade agility course in our backyard. No furniture is off-limits for our dogs. We don’t have human children, so our life literally revolves around enriching the lives of our Pawsense dogs. We work with them on manners, tricks, agility, and behavior modification. We know firsthand that dogs are a big part of many people’s lives and they don’t want to leave them just anywhere with just anyone. So we created Pawsense: a dog-loving team bringing owners a positive reinforcement-based dog-centered facility. Owners can have peace of mind knowing we’ll treat the dogs the same way we treat our own dogs (and chickens!) with patience, love, and kindness- and we always have a lot of fun. Read more>>

Preeti Pugatch

The Empowered Woman Rises (TEWR) movement aims to empower, inspire, and lift women across the world. This movement arose out of my journey to empower myself as I fought gender and race-based discrimination in my own life. I needed to learn that I wasn’t the problem, that I deserved respect, and that I was worthy of my success, but I felt alone in this endeavor until I came across stories of women around the world who were facing the same challenges. These stories helped me realize that the problem was systemic and that so many women felt the same way. This is what inspired me to launch TEWR. My mission is to educate and empower women to recognize when they are being mistreated and discriminated against, to help them realize that these behaviors are not their fault or something they have to tolerate quietly, and to teach them actionable strategies to confidently combat these issues. Read more>>

Nate Goodness

I, Chazz Greene, began writing poetry and rapping 20 years ago at age 15. My high-school girlfriend wrote poetry and it piqued my interest. At the same time, my best friend was a hip-hop head and introduced me to some artists that I was not being exposed to through radio, BET, and MTV. I also started freestyling with him and making “beat tapes” from Napster downloads. My first performance was at an Open Mic at college (Temple University) when I was 17 in 2003. At the time, I was going by the name “Native Sun” – which was inspired by the Richard Wright novel “Native Son.” When I returned to Baltimore in 2007, I learned that there was a well-established poet David Ross by the name, Native Son. It was an awkward moment at an open mic in which I had put “my” name on the list and when Native Sun/Son was called by the host – Ross got on stage and said, “I wasn’t even planning on performing tonight, but I guess someone saw me here and really wanted me to.” Read more>>

Devon Parham

All my life I have been a people person. This is one of the many reasons why I have always invested in the service industry. Through barbering, a moving company, and a valet parking business, I have found different avenues to serve people and bring hospitality to businesses. With over 10 years of parking experience, I have managed to add to the parking industry with AbovePar Valet Services. We focus on creating positive experiences through our interactions and service. We continue to grow our portfolio with partnerships in the Baltimore area servicing event spaces, restaurants, and hotels. We are different because we provide experienced hospitality professionals who understand the value of the customer experience. Read more>>

Taylor Crawford

My grandfather was the person who originally got me into photography when I was a child. He has been doing photography for many years and taught me how to use a DSLR camera when I was 12. Once I got to high school and discovered Tumblr back in 2010 and the different types of ways that photographs can be taken, that’s what really piqued my interest in realizing that I could be way more creative than I ever thought I could be. This leads me to more creative and fashion-focused styles of photography. Read more>>

Darby Pack

Over the years I held some nice titles. The one title that I love more than any other is MOTHER! I love being a mommy. I love the blessing of raising my daughter Nahyah. In my professional life, for the past 10 years, my title has been Founding Director of The Maryland Academy of Dance. This title has merged my joy of dance with my desire to help people! I have always believed I would have a company/school. I never imagined it would be this amazing. I never knew the impact it would have on our community. I always knew we needed a safe space for children to train. But more importantly, a place that they could be loved, pushed, and protected. I love to solve problems and to find ways to serve the whole child! Sharing the joy of dance with the world is my story!. Read more>>

Brooke Stewart

As a small child, I started using my gift of being an Empath. I felt everything and everyone’s energy. Growing up in the household, I grew up in was either going to break you or make you stronger. As sensitive as I was from being an Empath, I chose strength. I found an outlet in writing, so I started writing poetry based on my feelings or the chaos that I lived in. In spite of the challenges, I never lost hope. I continued to stay strong and journey through life with an optimistic approach. Also, I found healing for myself in, inspiring & uplifting others. Originally, I was born and raised in West Baltimore, Maryland. I attended public schools there and by high school, I knew I wanted to study drama. My mom didn’t know much about the kind of dreams I had. She was much more of a “See it, Touch it & Hear it” type of lady. I believe in more of what I can’t see than what I can see. Studying drama never happened to me at that time. However, after raising my amazing son, Dennis, time permitted me to move to Harlem, New York where I studied drama in Times Square with the infamous Susan Batson of Susan Batson. Studios. New York is where I gained a different truth about myself. There is where I learned that I am a “Lightworker” in short, the simplest way to describe lightworkers would be as beings who feel an enormous pull towards helping others. Read more>>

Analisse Diaz

I’d like to thank you again for having me. I’m so honored to have been considered and allowed to share my story on your platform and for you taking the time to interview me. My name is Analisse Diaz. I am 31 years old. I’m originally from the Bronx, New York, and am currently located in Baltimore, MD. I am the Founder and CEO of the brand “Orgullo and Soul.” Orgullo (pronounced OR-GOO-YO) is Spanish and translates to the word pride in English. The influence of my brand came from the love, pride, and passion I have for my Afro-Boricua roots, and its name was birthed from the same influence. I wanted my brand to embody a fusion of what makes me. Starting with the name, a bilingual Afro-Puerto Rican woman filled with pride and soul. I wanted the brand name to provide a feeling and a vibe, to provide intrigue! For me, Orgullo and Soul is more than just-food. Everyone has to eat so; therefore, it’s a lifestyle. But the food is at the heart and soul of it. Read more>>

Tifanee Gladney

A pinhole photo class in high school started it all. I was so amazed at how the image came out and I knew I wanted to have the ability to create something beautiful that was seen from my own eyes. Starting with the film I began taking pictures of everyday items that had some beauty in them (to me). From there I went on to study photography officially, continually growing and learning techniques. I earned an AA in Fine Arts and a BFA in Visual Arts. Throughout that whole timeline, I captured the world how it appeared to me. I wanted to not only showcase the beauty I saw but also have my voice be heard. I can talk more loudly through my images and photography became my voice and an outlet for me to tell my story. Read more>>

Brittani Borden

As a child my family was always taking photographs and making scrapbooks, inspiring my initial interest in photography, but unfortunately, I did not have a digital camera of my own until around 2013. Throughout high school, I took a few photography classes and was able to work in the darkroom and with a pinhole camera that I created out of an old tea tin, and my passion began to flourish. My first camera was on the back of my Blackberry, and even though the quality was very low, I was photographing nature every chance that I had with my new camera phone. In 2015, I began college at Loyola University Maryland and needed a camera for a photography course I had taken my first semester. My mother had an old digital Nikon with a flash attachment, and I began photographing everything from nature, to events, and even campus parties and hangouts with my friends. This is when I first created my photography Instagram account, formerly named Borden Photography. Read more>>

Sarah Wallace

Absolutely! I got my start in community by being the person who needed the help.  Over 10 years ago, I was a single mother with a toddler who stayed in 2 shelters to get herself on her feet and stable. While learning to navigate the system from the ground up, I learned a whole lot! As I applied for services and jobs, I learned that you have to ask for different things in certain ways to find out about key programs and offers. As I put my life together to become a stable mother for my son, I realized that every road to become successful needed a strategy to get there. So, I put together my own and began helping others do the same.  My priority at that time was to make sure that I could always access my son if need be. The first job that honored my request was in community with East Baltimore Historical Library. Community allows you the freedom to bring your child to meetings, if need be, since the root of all community is family. Due to that freedom, each job I excelled in from that point was a community job– with TRC, in-home health care, in the school systems, and the East Baltimore Research Project (EBRP). Read more>>

Adrian Ferguson

I am originally from the DMV. Northern Virginia was a good place to grow up. I took my talents to Atlanta for four years and came back with a degree. My rap career never took off, and I couldn’t find a multi-level marketing scheme that actually worked, so I ended up getting a 9 to 5. It was relatively early in my career when I realized what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my adult life. I finally got fed up to the point to jump out on faith and start turning my dream into a reality. Juggling a full-time job, a young family and a dream could be an Olympic sport. With late nights, working during my lunch breaks and in between toddler nap times, Art Of Noize came into fruition.  Read more>>

NAE

From a young age I was always interested in music as a medium to express myself but I never saw myself as an artist. Music always spoke to me and made me feel like I had a language to express the feelings that were often really repressed which became the source of how I started making my own music. Closer to the end of high school my friends got interested in freestyling and we would rap over beats in my friend’s car until late hours of the night. They would always tell me that I had the potential to make music as a full-time artist and so I decided I would try not only because they wanted me to but also because it was on a bucket list of mine to record an album that I could really be proud of beyond what anyone else thinks and the drive for that feeling exists today. For over 3 years before this year, there was no place for me to record or producers to work with while I went to school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Janice Bryant-Baker

    June 30, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    I have enjoyed reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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