Mother, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Cleopatra Vaughn, discovered early on the importance of a tight knit family and community support to maintain a healthy and positive lifestyle. Being molded by circumstances present in her daily life, Cleopatra was led down a path that could have destroyed her. She was determined not to wallow in pity for herself, but rather use her experiences to create a more positive future for herself and her family. The unfortunate situations that distinct Cleopatra away from her three children, offered a way for her to reach out to others in the same predicament she found herself in many years ago. Having been in an environment where many friends, peers and family members were confined to being incarcerated, dealth or simply not being involved, she knows firsthand what having support from the outside means. Various factors including distance, rising gas costs and inoperable vehicles keep those who are concerned with the welfare of their imprisoned or missing loved ones from being able to spend time and share love with them.
Cleopatra founded Judge Not, Incorporated, a non-profit organization was founded in 2013 in Columbus, Georgia. The mission of Judge Not, Inc. is to provide those children who feel alone, a village. Judge Not, Inc. was a service laid on Cleopatra’s heart to help keep the lines of communication open between inmates and their loved ones, as well as, let the inmates know they are not forgotten. This community outreach provides children with educational and recreational activities needed to foster positive relationships with their incarcerated or missing parents and promote positive self-esteem. There should be no surprise that this young lady has been empowered through Judge Not Inc to tell her own story, in her own way. Each day, while being present in the lives of her children, she proves to them that hard work pay off. Cleopatra also seeks to encourage and inspire her children to pursue their goals while making an indelible stamp in her community at large.
Judge Not is a non-profit organization committed to empowering the lives of previously incarcerated parents, their children and ultimately, their communities. We provide children with educational and recreational activities needed to foster positive relationships with their incarcerated parents and promote their self-esteem. We not only target children of incarcerated parents, we also aim to reach any child that has an absent parent in their lives due to death or absenteeism. JudgeNot realizes the negative effects on self-esteem, self-worth, and self-motivation that a missing parent can have on a child. The reason that children are the main target for this non-profit organization is because JudgeNot believes that children are the future. Not only are they our future, but it takes a village to raise a child. Community parenting can be a great and strong tool in regards to changing the lives of others. JudgeNot acts as a leader for the village and takes on the role and responsibility for supplying children with the tools they need to have a promising childhood and ultimately have the skills needed to have a promising future and live up to their potential. JudgeNot does not focus on the negative circumstances that affect the children on a daily basis, but instead JudgeNot brings to light the positive attributes that each individual child is in possession of and illuminates that light to shine as bright as possible. The brighter the child is allowed to shine, the easier they will be able to show their world their light and make a change -everything starts from the inside. Everything starts with us.
JudgeNot has many different programs that help our children become stronger members in the community. Every month, we gather and have a "Teen Talk" session. This session is important to our organization because it is a "no holds bar" session that the teens are in charge of. We allow the teens to lead these discussion sessions and we act as censors, mentors, and gatekeepers during the conversations. Each session focuses on different topics that directly relate to our teens such as death, violence, racism, peer-pressure, depression, feelings towards their missing parents, school, safe sex, and career of life goals. The goals of these sessions are to act as a catalyst for the emotional healing process that most of our teens are going though. This process consist of the use of guest speakers, mentors from the community, counselors, and therapist. We also hold an annual "Community Hoops". This "Community Hoops" is a way for the every neighborhood in the community to come together and participate in a basketball tournament. This is an important event because there is various gang or territory affiliation within the community. By offering "Community Hoops" annually, JudgeNot Inc is portraying to the community that everyone can get along regardless of what side of town they are from. JudgeNot also promotes the idea of self-esteem and an accurate portrayal of one's self by annual hair and fashion shows that consists of children models and acts. These are great exhibits of hard work and dedication because the kids have to spend countless hours of preparation before show time. Being a part of the production teaches kids responsibility, accountability, and dedication; all of which are skills needed to be productive citizens in the community. JudgeNot Inc also has sponsored a trip to tour the White House in Washington DC for its members and would like to make this an annual event if funding is available. JudgeNot also creates tutorial sessions for students struggling in certain subjects in school.