Jillian “JJ” Simmons, a fifteen-year veteran radio host from Cincinnati, Ohio, is more than just another voice to fill the airwaves. As an on-air talent, she has captivated listeners from major cities from across the country, including her hometown Cincinnati (WIZF-FM), Dayton (WROU-FM), New York City (WBLS-FM, where she worked alongside “The Queen of All Media,” Wendy Williams), Indianapolis (WHHH-FM), and Houston (KBXX-FM). Over the years, JJ on the Mic has interviewed many of the rich, famous and influential, including former President Barak Obama, and she has contributed her voice of experience to the ongoing dialogue on the impact of hip hop on the American social and political landscape.
Having lost two uncles to AIDS, JJ is also a champion of AIDS education and awareness. In response to her loss, she founded the J Darcey AIDS Foundation. As part of her awareness initiative, she also founded Red Tree Tees, an apparel company which uses hip hop infused tees as a tool of activism to emphasize the importance of getting tested.
In addition to being a positive influence on people she meets through her work, JJ is a proud mother. She uses her passion for the” mommy experience” to advocate for higher quality prenatal care in underprivileged communities. Although she has always had an innate desire to empower others, raising a daughter has deepened her desire to foster change in the lives of women, and inspired her to create the I’m Me Foundation. In keeping with her mission to create opportunities for positive social interactions and character-building experiences, the I’m Me Foundation provides tools to improve the esteem and self-worth of girls and young women.
JJ has chronicled her own personal experiences from a past abusive relationship and the journey to healing in her book, “Without Bruises,” designed to give guidance to others who find themselves in harmful situations. Her “Without Bruises: Help, Hope and Heal Series” is a collection of focus groups in collaboration with Therapist and Life Coach, Wendi Johnson-Turner, taking place in Houston. She invites the public to share their stories, champion one another and get healthy tools for healing.
JJ is currently excited to be part of Trinity Youth Services’ Celebrity Love Project and share some words of encouragement for girls in foster care. In her inspiring video message, JJ says, “Whatever you are going through, whatever you have been through, does not define who you are. You are not your circumstances.” She goes on to say, “You are qualified and worthy of greatness. You are greatness.” View the full video for more inspiring words from JJ Simmons.
Many foster youth struggle with feelings of hopelessness, despair and low self-esteem due to trauma and neglect. In order to help youth develop and sustain a positive mindset, Trinity Youth Services recently launched The Celebrity Love Project, inspiring motivational online videos featuring famous faces and influential community leaders.
After learning about the impactful project, Hollywood actress Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, Stomp the Yard), was the first to send her inspiring message.
“Don’t ever give up on yourself because you have purpose,” Meagan says in the video to Trinity foster youth. “There’s nobody else in the world that is like you that has the purpose and calling that you have in your life.”
The campaign was inspired by the experiences of former foster youth, Florence Edwards, now a Trinity Youth Services Foster Care Marketing Specialist. Florence is passionate about finding a way to create more support for youth who struggle with the same challenges she faced.
“As a former foster youth, I was bullied several times a day, suffered from low self-worth and really didn’t have any real role models. I’ll never forget my birthday in 1990. I was harassed by my high school’s football team. The players followed me around, saying mean comments about my appearance. Needless to say, I felt as if I had a negative zero self-worth. When I arrived home, I checked the mailbox and there was a letter addressed to me, with no return address. When I opened it, it was a letter from Jada Pinkett, my all-time favorite actress! She had taken the time to write me a real letter and had even answered all of my questions,” Florence says.
“From that day forward, I kept that letter with me for years. It helped me to keep moving forward even during my darkest hours when I felt unloved and unwanted. Because of Jada’s words of encouragement, I was able to continue to do well in school and even received several awards. Her letter made me feel like I mattered, and that I had value. I want our youth [at Trinity] to experience the same joy and feelings of worthiness as I did,” Florence says. “It really made a strong impact in my life.”
For more information about Trinity Youth Services’ Celebrity Love Project, or to become a foster parent, please call 909-825-5588, ext. 230, or send an email to fedwards@TrinityYS.org.