The Little Flower Kickoff at HOLLA!

A Huge Success!

More than 450 people turned out for the HOLLA! 5K Walk for Literacy on May 9, 2015.


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  Dr. Florita Bell Griffin, a native of Wadesboro, spoke with children during the HOLLA! 5K event.

Hundreds took advantage of the perfect weather and came out to support the HOLLA! 5K Walk for Literacy on Saturday.

“This was a huge turnout,” said Starr Dove of Finish Well Timing, who handled timing for the event. There were 151 people who registered for timing bibs and another 300 who came out to show support by volunteering, or just walking for fun and support to the cause of literacy.

“Everyone was on one accord, cheering each other on and supporting each other during the 5K,” said Keisha Leaks of Monroe, who came with her family.

The Literacy 5K attracted people from as far away as Georgia and Winston-Salem, as well as from nearby communities.

HOLLA! used the event to raise money to support its local literacy projects. Improving literacy rates is a primary objective of the organization, which was founded in 2005 to address low achievement in the school system. “The struggle is real but with sincerity and consistence, we will prevail,” said Leon Gatewood, CEO of the organization.

A highlight of the event was the debut of The Little Flower Literary Project, presented by Wadesboro native, Dr. Florita Bell Griffin. Dr Griffin debuted the project, which included a series of books, before a captive audience of children and their parents at the HOLLA! Center in Morven.

During the literacy rally, she told parents that a single teacher who did not believe in her changed the course of her educational experience. She went from an A student to feeling “dumb.” But that all changed when she met her husband and he convinced her that she was indeed smart. Be careful what you say to your children or how you allow others to label them, she said.

According to Little Flower founder, Dr. Florita Bell Griffin, “The Little Flower project found fertile ground in Anson County to launch its national campaign.”

Dr. Griffin added, “I am honored to have taken part in this much-needed initiative. Society in general, and our children in particular, will certainly benefit from this effort on the behalf of HOLLA.”

With a mission to promote literacy and communication through the use of art, the “Little Flower” Storybook and Educational Series is loosely based on the life of the author, Dr. Griffin, who was inspired by her husband, Dr. Richard W. Griffin. It uses storytelling and artistic media to stimulate academic performance, foster self-esteem, create vision, and promote diversity in middle school students.

Dr. Griffin said, “We hope to work with HOLLA in the future as we jointly promote literacy and communication skills among our youth.”

To find out more about the Little Flower project, visit

Excerpt from The Anson Record Newspaper

Photos Courtesy of Leon Gatewood



On May 9, 2015, the HOLLA! Center of Morven, NC staged a 5K Walk/Run, as well as provide the kick-off location for the literacy project, “Florita Bell Griffin’s Little Flower™” International Cultural Art Project” of Houston, Texas.

The theme of the 5K Race, “Run into the Freedom of Literacy,” encapsulates the mission of both HOLLA! and the Little Flower project.

According to HOLLA’s founder, Leon Gatewood, “the inclusion of Dr. Florita Bell Griffin, and the Little Flower series, is an aligning of the stars.” He adds, “the message of ‘Little Flower’ and its emphasis on literacy is completely aligned with the mission of HOLLA! We feel fortunate to provide the venue for this historic and symbolic launch.”

The non-profit organization HOLLA! and the HOLLA! Center provide a variety of services and programs that aid in increasing the test scores for children so that they are better equipped to make positive contributions to the community and society.

The inspiration for “Little Flower” which also means “Florita” in Spanish, came from Dr. Griffin’s husband, Dr. Richard W. Griffin, who insisted that his wife’s professional training, passion for children and her own life experiences uniquely qualified her to launch the ground-breaking initiative. “Little Flower” formally entered the development phase in 2013, following more than two decades of planning. With a mission to improve communications skills, through the use of the arts, the “Little Flower” project specifically addresses bullying and discrimination, as well as methods to minimize their negative impact on children. Using storytelling and artistic media, the project is designed to stimulate academic performance, foster self-esteem, create vision, and promote diversity in middle school students.

During the May 9th kick-off event, Dr. Griffin will display various components of the Little Flower project that includes the collaborative work of over thirty-five creative and business professionals from nine states and seven countries.

The “Little Flower” Storybook and and Educational Series component is loosely based on the life of the author. The series is dedicated to the memory of her deceased parents, the Rev. Asa L. Bell and Mrs. M.R.Bell.

100% of profits generated from all Little Flower products sold at the 5K Walk/Run will be donated to the M. R. Bell Scholarship Fund at HOLLA! and to HOLLA!

HOLLA! founder Gatewood, and author Griffin grew up literally across the street from each other in Wadesboro, NC. The 5K Race is a reunion of sorts for community members who will play a variety of pivotal roles in the event.

Holla 5K Poster

*HOLLA! Flyer 8.5x11

In Spanish, my name “Florita” means “little flower;” and in French, it is symbolic of the Fleur de Lis, the Lily Flower cherished by French people.  However, “Phoebe Hannah,” was the name that my pastor-father wanted to bestow upon me at birth, because Phoebe and Hannah were among his favorite Biblical Figures.  Fortunately, my mother’s name choice prevailed, and I was named Florita Lenise Bell.

Florita Bell Griffin at age three with my Dad

Florita Bell  at age three with my Dad

The acrylic on canvas painting below is a spoof on the original name idea. The image is of me with a yellow rose added to my hair, but the background is not the setting of the original picture that was used to model the image. The painting titled, “Phoebe Hannah, Sunday Go To Meeting Clothes” (1993), by Artist Frederick G. Ford, PhD, is a portraiture of me at nine years of age. 

Phoebe Hannah

Florita Bell in Phoebe Hannah-Sunday Go To Meeting Clothes (age nine) aka Little Flower

The Little Flower Project (from a glance)

Florita Bell Griffin’s Little Flower International Cultural Art Project uses storytelling and components of artistic media as a stimulus for developing literacy and performance skills, while fostering self-esteem, confidence, vision, diversity, and imagination in children from around the world. Artistic Media included in the project’s ventures include: paint, sculpture, film, literature, transmedia, performing arts, photography, music, and video games.

The Phoebe Hannah…painting (above and below) is the keystone of  the Little Flower Brand and Florita Bell Griffin’s Little Flower International Cultural Art Project. It is also the inspiration for the logo and avatar.