Welcome to our fourth annual Women to Watch issue. We’re so excited about this year’s group of young ladies! From making a name in the creative writing world to racking up wins in pageants, gymnastics, and more, from running charities and earning scholarships to glowing with simple, everyday kindness, these gals are truly doing the incredible things we love to feature. We even have one of the few female Chinook pilots in the world! Let’s start off with our four cover girls. You’re going to be fascinated by their stories – and floored by their terrific advice!
Do what’s right. Even if it’s not popular. Think outside the box and always be kind, friendly, and positive. You never know what people are going through. – Chasity Cloud age 13
Believe in yourself. If you know in your heart that what you’re doing is right, if you know you’re helping people and it’s good, it’s good. Don’t worry about what others think. – Charity Cloud age 14
Most young teens are primarily concerned with homework, extracurricular activities, and their social life. The Cloud sisters certainly value these things too, but they also have something much bigger on their plates. Charity, 14, and Chasity, 13, run a full-fledged nonprofit with their mother, Ivory.
Launched by Ivory when the girls were just preschoolers, Dreams of Lois began as a support group for girls who lost their parents young. The organization honors Ivory’s mom Lois, who died of breast cancer on Mother’s Day at age 34, when Ivory was just nine.
“My mom had a very giving heart,” Ivory says. “She always gave back. I wanted something that would carry her legacy on, especially since my own daughters never got to know her. My husband Dr. Antré, and I involved the girls as much as we could from the beginning and it has been a part of their lives, I think as long as they can remember. Today they really are driving forces in the organization. Much of what we do was their idea and they take on amazing responsibility for making our events and projects come together.”
In fact, the teens’ work with Dreams of Lois is so inspiring that they received multiple nominations for this year’s Women to Watch list.
“Charity and Chasity relish the opportunity to encourage, motivate, and inspire other young people to a life of service,” wrote one nominator. “In addition to being committed to charity work, they are both exceptional students, athletes, involved in church activities, and members of school clubs.”
Over time, Dreams of Lois has grown into a community outreach program with several events each year. Three key annual events benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Charity and Chasity spearhead the March event, which involves collecting donated pajamas in honor of their cousin, Kevon, who passed unexpectedly. The girls distribute the pajamas to CHOA kids at a big social gathering. This year, they extended their collection efforts to six Fayette County schools and even received a donation from Mayor Johnson. The result? More than 300 sets of branded pajamas donated. The girls also organized crafts for the kids to do at the event, and had bread, peanut butter, and jelly for sandwich-making.
In January of each year, Dreams of Lois also organizes a meal and crafts event at CHOA in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. May brings another big event: the annual CHOA Mother’s Day tea.
“Charity and Chasity do an incredible amount of work for the tea,” Ivory says. “They make sure that we have all the inventory we need, they order the cupcakes, collect toiletries, and so much more.”
In July, the organization collects new books and donates them to Northside hospital NICU unit. In December, they host a holiday and craft social and collect new toys for children in need. Basically, no matter the time of year, Charity, Chasity, and their family are either holding an outreach event or preparing for one!
“My mom started this organization,” Charity says, “but we really feel like it’s our mission too. I love seeing the people smile, especially the kids, and I like that I’m honoring my grandmother and my cousin. The kids in the hospital are going through a really tough time and I just think it’s important to try to make a difference.”
“I really just love helping others,” she says. “I love making their day go better. I also really enjoy the process of planning and figuring out all the details.”
The organization is certainly a family affair. The girls’ father actively participates in events and projects, and so does their grandfather, Ivory’s dad Cornelius Heckstall. Heckstall and their grandmother, Sharon Cloud, – a breast cancer survivor – is an active participant.
While Dreams of Lois is important to the entire family, it hardly takes up either busy teens’ entire lives. Their day typically starts at 6 AM and rarely ends before 11 at night.
Charity, a ninth grader at Whitewater High, loves math and her AP human geography class. She’s been involved in gymnastics since she was two years old and has racked up nearly 100 medals. She also plays basketball and runs track, and she’s on Whitewater’s varsity and JV squads for both. She also plays AAU basketball and was recently inducted into Beta Club. She really enjoys travel and her favorites include Barbados and Saint Martin’s. She’s hoping to go to Italy and Australia soon, and she went to Spain last year. She likes to read sports books and mysteries and loves arts and crafts.
Chasity is in seventh grade at Whitewater Middle. She also loves math as well as social studies and history. She’s fascinated by technology and IT, and she likes figuring out how things work. She also participates in dance (jazz) and theater, plays the violin for her school orchestra, plays volleyball, and is involved in her school’s builders club. She loves to read, particularly mystery and nonfiction/autobiographies.
Both young women already have clear ideas about future careers. Charity wants to be a pediatrician and Chasity intends to be an engineer. They also have a shared passion for the future of Dreams of Lois: they want to take it global.
“We want everyone to know about it,” Charity says. “We really want to have an event next year in New York.”
Dreams of Lois is well on its way to becoming what Charity and Chasity dream it to be. Last year, Ivory won a Winship 80 award from Emory University for the organization. Other award winners include Shirley Franklin, Monica Kaufman, and Jimmy Carter.
“When I started Dreams of Lois,” Ivory says, “I wanted to make giving and outreach generational. Dreams of Lois really is about legacy. It’s about who my mother was and who my nephew was and who I wanted to be and who my daughters are becoming. The girls were always interested and they’ve always been incredibly creative. We have done more than I ever imagined because of their passion and creativity.”