Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
NEW BROUGHTON, Manchester:SHELLY-ANN RICHMOND has been giving back to her community of south Manchester through her annual back-to-school treat for the last 10 years and has touched the lives of many persons.
Richmond was born in Cross Keys in south Manchester and attended Woodlands Primary School, an institution, she said, helped to shape her life.
"I remember growing up there. I was one of the fortunate ones because I had aunts abroad," she said. "Every September, they used to send barrels with back-to-school supplies with all we would need for the school year. However, at school, I saw kids coming to school barefooted, drinking Kool-Aid (drinks) out of bleach bottles."
Richmond added: "Even at that young age, six and seven years old, I was moved by that, so looking back, that was one of the things that made me want to do something for the needy people in the community."
Richmond migrated to the United States of America and attended the University of New Hampshire, where she studied sociology and law.
While at New Hampshire, she established the foundation I Am Somebody's Adored Child in 1999. "When I went there, it was a very predominantly white school. Very few coloured students were going there," she disclosed.
"At first, I felt isolated and found it hard to adjust. I transferred to another university but transferred back because it worked out to be more expensive. I explained to the president the challenge and the need to increase the minority population and to get more students of colour coming there."
In 1999, Richmond started recruiting students from Brooklyn to attend the university on scholarships. "From that programme, one student now has her doctorate, a couple of people have their master's," Richmond told Rural Xpress.
It was through that programme, with the aim of assisting the less fortunate, that she turned her attention to her roots and started giving back to her home community in south Manchester through her back-to-school treat.
The most recent treat was staged at the New Broughton Basic School, where children from Cross Keys and adjoining communities were treated to back-to-school supplies.
"I rounded up my friends - people who understand that education is the key and that there are people out there who are really in need," Richmond said. "So I went around, begged them for contributions, and they helped in making this back-to-school treat possible."
The children got books, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, and other school supplies, while there were items of clothes for both children and adults. "I feel that God has given me a lot, and to whom much is given, much is expected," Richmond said. "To be able to do this really warms my heart, and if I am one person and I can bring six barrels, if more people come in and do this, can you imagine the number of kids that can benefit from something like this?"
Richmond heaped a lot of praises on her alma mater, Woodlands Primary School. "Without Woodlands Primary School, I wouldn't have been the person I am today," she said. "I thank all those teachers who have helped to shape my life."
Richmond is based in Brooklyn, New York. She has achieved three master's degrees and is currently pursuing her doctorate.