Updated: Oct 20, 2022
This is my story...OUR WHY
It is summer 2012 in Salt Lake City. I am recently divorced, after escaping domestic violence. Now, I'm raising my 3 living (very young) children as an immigrant Black single mother in Utah.
Nearly two winters ago, I buried my youngest child at a US southern state's cemetery many miles of oceans away from my homeland, Haiti.
Ironically, my country of birth also happened to have been struck with the deadliest earthquake in its history, precisely 2 weeks after my 4 1/2 month-old daughter passed away in her sleep, at home in Utah. This is a state where only 2% of the population is African-American. When the earthquake struck Haiti, I lost a very dear friend, my childhood home where I grew up for nearly 20 years was damaged, my mom and dad had to run to the nearest chapel (LDS Church) to seek shelter. For 2 days, I didn't receive any news of whether they were still alive or dead.
I woke up again this blissfully sunny summer morning, still devastated by the lingering effects of marital abuse, grief, and the heavy family load I carry daily. I cried myself to sleep in secret again last night, but every morning I keep putting on a brave face for my 3 precious babies still alive and well at home with me (plus our chiwawa/rat terrier fur baby). They're are all depending on me to care for them to the best of my abilities. I say my morning prayers as I feel grateful for the privilege of having 3 bright children who keep me young (or old, depending on the day) when I laugh with them, learn with them, and teach them whatever I can. I'm also thankful for having gainful employment, some family nearby, a supportive LDS bishop (finally), my first real therapist, empathetic neighbors and friends here in Utah, etc.
For the next 10 years, I resume writing poetry, which I had fallen in love with at the age of 14, at school back in Haiti. As soon as I discover the art of spoken word performance starting in the summer of 2012 (mainly through 365 Poetry and my late mentor Benjamin Cabey), I find joy in sharing my talent as well as in collaborating with various emerging artists who identify as women, Black, Brown, Indegenous People of Color (BIPOC), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) around Utah and Africa.
But it was in the summer of 2013, that I made a Vision Board at home with my kiddos for what I would later call LE ROSSIGNOL CARIBBEAN CAFÉ #LRCCutah. At that time, I was running yet again from a domestic violence situation by moving to another town with the kids. I really wish someone had told me much sooner that contrary to popular belief, when you leave a relationship with a narcissistic abuser, you are not automatically exempt from acts of violence or psychological abuse from them. I am just glad that a City Victim Advocate at the police station informed me of that important fact when she did while showing empathy.
From 2020 on, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the social injustices highlighted by the televised murder of George Floyd that same year, I file for Caribbean Nightingale LLC (DBA Le Rossignol). I then work tirelessly to open a physical location for this cultural center my children and I had drafted on a cardboard 7 years earlier. I network incessantly in the Salt Lake area, I apply to multiple business grants, meet regularly with business advisors, attend online marketing trainings, apply for and participate in entrepreneurship programs, and so on. All of my attempts at raising the necessary start up funds remain unsuccessful. I then experience a severe case of burnout.
As I begin to set my mind on giving up, the spring of 2022 brings another devastating life event. Unexpectedly, my young son receives a major health diagnosis. At this point I'm falling apart inside and praying day and night. One day while visiting with my son at the hospital where he's awaiting his first heart surgery, he looks at me and asks: "mom, will you be writing a third book now, one that talks about your experience at the hospital here with me?". I look at him confused and simply say "son, this is the last thing on my mind right now. I'm just focusing on being there with you." He looks at me again and replies "well, you should!" At that moment I realize three important things.
First, I cannot lose my baby boy too. After all, who would I have quirky random conversations like this with, other than him? Who would I go watch the latest Batman or Wolverine movie with? Second, I have to publish my next poetry collection this year. After a couple of months of nonstop writing, I now plan to self-publish THE NIGHTINGALE WOMAN'S PRAYERS: POEMS ON FAITH AND HEALING around this year's Thanksgiving Holiday. Lastly, I cannot give up on the dream my 3 kiddos and I created nine years ago on a makeshift Vision Board, a simple cardboard where we drew each room of LE ROSSIGNOL CARIBBEAN CAFÉ that will bring joy and healing to our community.
I will do it for my son. I will do it for all of my children. I do it for all the Black, Brown, or LGBT youth in Utah who struggle to fit in and even sometimes to live in an overwhelmingly non diverse state. I do it for the women, men, who are domestic violence (DV) victims or trauma survivors who seek a place of refuge through creativity, authenticity, and poetry. They deserve it. I deserve it.
Please join me, my precious kiddos, the artists, chefs, and locally-owned businesses from various minorities groups with whom I work. Help us in our efforts to promote Women Empowerment, Inclusion, and Mental Health Awareness in Utah. Lend us a hand in providing a safe community space where all feel welcome at our Poetry-focused wellness retreats, open mics, workshpos, and classes. Help lift Black Voices in this state and beyond by shopping for Books by emerging Black Authors, handmade Afro-Caribbean inspired dresses and accessories, and custom made cards at GLADYS BOUTIQUE (Caribbean-Nightingale.com).
Create Community with us. Be a part of a Utah legacy that your children and grandchildren will benefit from years after you're gone.
🌸 HELP US HELP THE COMMUNITY 🌸
FUNDRAISER for #LRCCutah GOAL: $50,000
ABOUT US & OUR PROGRAMS
"Le Rossignol" means "Nightingale" in the French language, and is the only bird that sings both day and night. Le Rossignol Caribbean Café is a safe community space, especially for women and minorities in Utah, whether they want to go somewhere special to celebrate a milestone in their lives or to find enrichment, empowerment, or community healing through our various programs.
Haitian-born Founder, Artivist, and Chef, The Caribbean Nightingale partners with local artists, authors, and chefs who identify as Women, BIPOC, LGBT, to bring the following programs in order to promote Inclusion, Women Empowerment, and Mental Health Awareness
Open for Dine-In weekly, ONLY on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, from 2pm until 7pm MST with Pick Up & Delivery available
FOOD TRUCK CHILL DAYS: on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 2-7pm, where guests can enjoy their purchased meal in our quaint "Living Room" space. The Food Truck selected each day is Caribbean or Black-owned
CATERING SERVICES: orders can ONLY be placed online by filling out the Catering Request Form on our website at www.Caribbean-Nightingale.com
RELAXATION THROUGH VERSE Poetry Salon, a series of Wellness Retreats infused with Spoken Word Poetry, Afro-Caribbean Cuisine & Folkloric Dance. They are catered by food vendors who are Black.
JUST ADD POETRY, a series of Open Mic Brunch Programs and Afro-Caribbean Cooking Classes catered/taught by The Caribbean Nightingale and/or various Black female chefs in the community who hold a food permit. Open Mic Brunches take place every other Sunday 2-6pm. Cooking classes are taught at a commercial kitchen in Utah county on Saturdays at 11am
CUPCAKES FOR BREAKFAST Meet & Greet, is a series of Book Signings with either The Caribbean Nightingale or another Black or Brown female author. This event is FREE and takes place every other Sunday. Books, Cupcakes/desserts/drinks will be available for purchase on site
GLADYS BOUTIQUE, our online store inspired by The Caribbean Nightingale's late mother who was a Trained Chef, Fashion Designer, Teacher, Entrepreneur, and Community Supporter in Haiti. The store offers Books by emerging authors of African descent, Custom Bookmarks & Cards designed by The Caribbean Nightingale herself, as well as Tailor-made African-inspired Dresses & Accessories by seamstresses and artisans in Haiti & Ghana. A few items from the online store will be on display onsite in our Salt Lake City location
OTHER EVENTS: LE ROSSIGNOL CARIBBEAN CAFÉ also partners with 2 local nonprofits (Bomba Marilé and Ngoma y’Africa to bring weekly folkloric community dance/drumming classes and Brunch Open Mics. In addition, Burning Sissy Valley will be regularly holding qtPOC healing gatherings. Finally, we invite local Black and LGBT Chefs, Artists, and various Community Healing Circles/Classes (i.e yoga) to use the space for a reduced fee or at no cost. Corporate & Private events are encouraged to submit a request for venue rental on our Contact form and
must use our On-Premise Catering Service
WHAT YOU WILL GET
When you make a difference by donating today, you may also elect to receive the following gifts to be presented in the form of a Certificate on or before the day of Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of our brick-and-mortar space:
$50-$99 GIFT may receive one recognition/THANK YOU post on our social media channels
$100-$499 GIFT may receive, in addition to aforementioned THANK YOU/Recognition online Post, a $20 Gift Certificate to our online store
$500-$999 GIFT may receive, in addition to aforementioned THANK YOU/Recognition online Post, a private cooking class with The Caribbean Nightingale ($100 retail value)
$1000-$4,999 GIFT may receive, in addition to aforementioned THANK YOU/Recognition online Post, a FREE spoken word performance voucher from The Caribbean Nightingale ($500 retail value)
$5,000+ GIFT may receive, in addition to aforementioned THANK YOU/Recognition online Post, a FREE spoken word performance voucher from the RELAXATION THROUGH VERSE Poetry Salon Cast ($1000+ retail value)
HOW TO GET YOUR THANK YOU GIFT
When you donate, be sure to write in the Notes your Full Name, your Company Name if applicable, your email address, your preferred social media handle, a mailing address where we can send you your certificate or card, and your phone number (optional).
FUNDRAISER BREAKDOWN: $80,000
• 21 to cover the one year lease at the Artspace Solar Garden in SLC
• 10K to cover furnishings and other operating costs for 1 year
• 29K to cover part-time staff salaries for up to 3 months
• $20K for catering transportation
TARGET GRAND OPENING DATE: Black Friday Weekend (November 2022)
HELP US HELP OUR UTAH COMMUNITY