Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Jamaican gives back to community

Published:Thursday | August 20, 2015 | 8:00 AMTamara Bailey
Shelly-Ann Richmond has devoted much time for caring for others.

CROSS KEYS, Manchester:

Having grown up in a community where the needs of the children around were many, Shelly-Ann Richmond, who could do very little to help them at the time, is now pouring her heart and soul into her outreach projects, avowing the phrase: 'To whom much is given much is required'.

More than 1,000 children and adults gathered at the Cross Keys community centre on Monday to receive items of clothing, toiletries, and back-to-school supplies from Richmond's charity outreach programme, 'I am Somebody's Adored Child'.

Thirteen years into making her annual donations, Richmond was particularly overwhelmed by the support and the significant number of lives she was able to impact this time around.

"... I was lucky enough to, every September, have books, new uniforms and all the school supplies, so I know what it feels like to go to school with everything and being ready to accomplish," Richmond told Rural Xpress.

She added: "I attended Woodlands Primary as a child, and it wasn't my story, but I saw a lot of children who suffered extreme poverty, barefoot, drinking out of bleach bottles. Yeah, I sat beside children who would bring their Kool-Aid in bleach bottles. They had no food ... but had it not been for the start I got at Woodlands, despite the poverty and devastation around, I may not have been in the position to give back," she said.

With no position of affluence, Richmond said that education was her great escape, an opportunity she wants other children to have.

As the director of a programme of higher education for at-risk youth, Richmond, who now resides in Brooklyn, New York, has already attained three master's degrees and is anticipating the receipt of her PhD in 2016, but her greatest joy is helping others.

"We started out with just back-to-school supplies, but then we realised the parents have needs as well, and so we have been getting things for them as well. We also make donations to the health centre and the library. Wherever the need is and we can fill that gap, we do all we can," said Richmond.

Fire victim assisted

Among the persons extremely grateful for the donations received was Felecia Bell, who got burned out of her apartment and was left with nothing.

"Everything burned out - mi bed, mi TV, fridge, microwave, clothes, everything, and mi asthma machine. I have to be staying at a friend's house with mi two sons and mi grandson," she lamented.

Richmond is poised to continue her efforts in the community and wishes for anyone interested in helping others to visit her website at www.iamisac.org to make donations.

"I am investing in my children. These are my kids, these are the same people from my community, and so when I come back, this is where I choose to invest," she told Rural Xpress.

rural@gleanerjm.com