by Stacey J. Smith, Special to The New Tri-State Defender
When Keesha Dancy retired from the U.S. Army after 26 successful years, she had no idea that the years served was preparing her for another type of service.
A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Dancy came to Memphis to be closer to her family. While teaching high school JROTC, she realized that something was missing. She wanted to combine her passion for travel with mentorship.
After 10 years of planning, in Aug. 2016 her nonprofit organization, All Things Are Possible, was born. The last thing she did to make her vision a reality was to travel between Europe, Asia and Africa to make sure she was certain of what type of experience she wanted to offer. This time away gave her more perspective and motivation to pursue her passion of offering travel opportunities to young ladies who otherwise may not be able to travel abroad.
The mission of All Things Are Possible is to empower, inspire and develop young ladies, ages 12-20, through travel, education, mentorship and service. Her vision is to change lives, one girl, one community and one country at a time.
When asked about the origin of the name, Dancy responded, “The name says it all — All Things Are Possible. It’s a daily reminder that even though you have obstacles, disappointments, failures and disadvantages, you can overcome them. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of seeing the world through travel and my dream has come true. Because I have been to most of the U.S. and to over 50 countries, I want to share that experience with other girls who look like me.”
Currently, there are nine participants in the program, but Dancy hopes to have more enrolled this school year. Dancy said the first official trip was in June 2018 where they spent 10 days exploring Medellin and Cartagena, Colombia (South America). All Things Are Possible also partnered with another organization in March to travel to Ghana.
Iyanna Hughes, an ATAP participant, said, “I’m looking forward to building new friendships with girls my age and exploring new places.”
“People of Medellin are very vibrant. Medellin is like both a positive and negative place. My best moment was climbing the Rock of Guatape,” said Brooklyn Hulbert, another ATAP participant. The rock, also called the Peñol Stone, is the second largest stone in the world, with roughly 750 steps to get the top.
“It was a very enlightening moment because you have to focus and pay attention to where you are going,” Hulbert said.
Dancy said funding and sponsorship is a big challenge, but the young ladies also have transportation difficulties. “Many have problems getting to the meeting locations. We are trying to search for ways to overcome this barrier.”
Dancy also wants to break the stigma of travel being dangerous. “There is good and bad wherever you go, but you must be diligent, alert and use common sense.”
Nicole Gates, an ATAP parent, said, “All Things Are Possible has helped to broaden my daughter’s horizons by exposing her to opportunities outside of our backyard. I have personally watched my daughter’s leadership skills grow from her involvement with All Things Are Possible. She is more well-rounded and have fostered a love for being knowledgeable about world affairs.”
Travel is a major component of All Things Are Possible, but Dancy said her organization is also concerned with school success and service to the community as well.
While the travel opportunities allow them to go beyond the books and beyond the border, the participants are required — before they travel — to research the country, create itineraries and decide how they want to engage with the local culture and overcome language barriers.
All Things Are Possible pays for all expenses: flights, accommodations, meals, insurance, passports, visas, excursions, supplies, etc., but participants are expected to do some fundraisers to augment some of those expenses. Students are also expected to be in good standing at school and at home.
“I believe providing young girls an opportunity to travel, experience various cultures, develop and participate in service learning projects, along with academic support, not only motivates them to become change agents within their communities but also prepares them for academic success in school as well as throughout their adulthood,” said Dancy.
Dancy is the owner of 3D Travel and Tours, LLC, a home-based travel agency, a mentor for the Memphis Grizzlies team mentor program, a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, and a member of other charitable and social organizations. When she is not traveling, she is spending time with her family, two children and two grandchildren.
For more information on All Things Are Possible, visit www.atapinc.org