What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?
Although I have lived in the Greater Atlanta area for 5 years, I still felt disconnected from the community. Community service has been an important aspect in my life, and since moving to Georgia, I saw that YPL provided engaging and impactful opportunities in multiple spaces that allowed me to be amongst my peers. Interestingly, United Way’s positive impact has touched my life so many times and its initiatives have run parallel to my core beliefs for years now – I see it as a welcomed destiny to align my efforts with YPL.
What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?
All of it! I love teaching children, being involved with financial and health education, as well as organizing uplifting professional and entertainment events with the purpose of bringing the local community together. A connected community is so powerful that it can uplift and grow successful members of society for generations to come.
What was the turning point that made you realize the importance of giving back?
I hold a philosophy of Ubuntu – “I AM, because we ARE”. I have always felt that we are all tied to one another. My experience with hardship as a youth was a driver to push for better socio-economic conditions using education early on. However, the turning point to expand my efforts in the community was when BOTH of my parents died consecutively and unexpectedly while entering my 1st and 3rd year of college. That initial feeling of “losing everything”—my mind and spirit—was earth-shattering. All I could do was grasp from the depth of my beliefs to get through the next day, which was to help heal myself through helping others. I imagined that if I was going through this, someone was going through something worse and who could bear that alone? My empathy allowed me to just KEEP. PUSHING. ON. I looked up and I realized that dropping out of college or taking a break was not an option. And as the haze faded, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. The people around me helped tremendously, and most were total strangers! That encouragement and support lit a fire in me to continue using my gifts and time to help others in need.
How do you incorporate giving back into your free time? How are you continuing to stay involved in the community during a pandemic?
I prefer to choose work that I really like to do; therefore, my efforts flow around me and are an extension of who I am. During the pandemic, I elected to engage in various uplifting opportunities, such as reading to children, or planning community events.
What would you say to someone who is considering joining YPL?
Why not have fun and engage with the most awesome people in town?
What aspects of your life motivate you to thrive and why?
I’ve learned to sit still, listen and love myself. In addition, my practice of gratitude has opened the joy and opportunity in each day. Why? Because life, itself is a gift.