I was taught early in life that giving back to the community in which I lived; grew up in and impacted, was a requirement. My parents were my first role model of volunteerism. My mother was one of the original founders of the local chapter of 100 Black Women; and she also volunteered at the Boy’s & Girls Club, teaching performing arts classes. My father volunteered with a Male Mentor Ministry in our church and gave golf lessons.
My first volunteer assignment was feeding the homeless. I remember at the age of 8, going to the shelter with my mom; and was given a white apron, plastic gloves; and a hairnet. I was charged with handing out napkins. I remember feeling so proud that I was helping. But I also recall feeling sad. Prior to going to the shelter; my mother talked to me outside of our two-story, three-car garage home with a pool; and explained where we were going and why we were doing it. She told me that we were going to “feed people that did not have a home, food or jobs.” I recall her saying, “and there but for the Grace of God, could be us.” I didn’t fully understand, but once I got there, and I saw kids my age; that’s when I became sad. On the way home, I told my mother that I wanted to give the kids some of my clothes and toys. I was so excited to pack a box of items, and I gave away things that I never thought I could part with because I was so determined to make a difference.
And today, that motto of making a difference still stays with me. I continue to support organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army with donations and my time. And I admire and support athletes, actors, CEO’s, and those with influence who go back into their communities to make a difference as well.