At times in my life, I experienced hunger, thirst, lack of clothing and being shunned for not having. I went to school many days without shoes on my feet. When I got home from school, I didn’t know if I would have food to eat. I grew up with oil lamps and candles to allow me to do my homework. We didn’t have electricity or running water or a bed to sleep in, but I was able to rise above it all.
Hailing from the island of the Exuma, a district of the Bahamas, I was the sixth child of Leah and I stumbled, walked, and ran into a purpose. As a child growing up I would collect rocks. That may sound cliché but collecting rocks was an act of survival. There were moments in my survival where I had to sit on a bucket with a small hammer and break rocks to make gravel. The gravel was sold to construction companies and builders who would then use it to mix with cement to strengthen the foundation of the homes that they built. At the end of a hard day’s work, I could feel the blisters in my hand from the tight grip on the hammer. This is when I knew that I had to do something different with my life in order for me to leave that island. So, I turned to sports.
I received a track and field scholarship to attend St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C. This was the start of a new chapter in my life that led to my own philanthropic journey.
I also work for TIAA, a company dedicated to helping those who teach, heal, and serve achieve financial well-being. We are the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields, serving more than 5 million people.
Working at TIAA allows me to continue my love to serve. TIAA recognizes the far-reaching economic and socio-economic impact of poverty and the role it plays to influence the mind of our youths, and the community as a whole. We strive to establish healthy relationships built on trust and open communication.
I currently co-chair TIAA’s 45-member volunteer council where we focus on the following four initiative areas: education, hunger, environment and community building. The message we send is that the impact we are making is huge. It’s major. Our volunteers not only get to see how our company engages with the community, but how TIAA recognizes the need and helps in any way we can, whether through funding or giving of our time.
TIAA partners with organizations devoted to providing financial education, increasing reading proficiency, improving high school graduation and college persistence rates. Our volunteers get to go into the school system on a weekly basis to assist students with furthering their education throu gh mentorship and teaching the value of financial literacy. We address issues of poverty and homelessness by partnering with organizations that provide affordable housing and support economic development of local communities. Lastly TIAA allows volunteers to address issues of food insecurity by providing support to school feeding programs, local food banks, hunger advocacy initiatives and international hunger relief programs.
In 2017, more than 8,000 TIAA employee volunteers participated in 407 projects in 23 states, logging more than 16,400 hours.
DO GOOD Week provides a platform for TIAA’s Charlotte employees to find opportunities that support organizations right here in our community.
This year is TIAA’s 100th anniversary. To mark 100 years of helping those who do good do well, TIAA is recognizing 100 people who work for nonprofit organizations and are having a positive impact on the world.