This article was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.
Read this interview with Zodelia Williams, Founder and Executive Director of 3D's Aftercare Inc.
My name is Zodelia Williams, everyone calls me Zoe.
- I am a Licensed Social Worker
- I have been employed by the NYC Department of Education for last 16 years
- I am an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) specialist providing services to children diagnosed with autism
- I provide Home Care to Seniors
- I am the Founder/Executive Director of 3 D's Aftercare Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization
- I am also a Doctoral Student
How do you give back?
To date, 3 D’s Aftercare Inc., has served the NYC community with holiday family style meals for over 500+ families; provided afterschool services to 25+ children, all promoted to the next grade with level 3 and 4 on homework and ELA exams; held back to school events, giving out more than 500 back packs filled with school supplies; hosted weekly FREE movie nights, providing children a safe haven with hot dog and a drink in a movie theatre setting; provided summer camp that included enrichment activities to 50+ children; facilitated CPR, GED, ESL courses; hosted various workshops; collected donations of clothing and furniture and distributed to the community; we opened our doors daily and provided FREE internet and a safe space for families and we collaborated with various organizations in an effort to affirm and empower a nation of children that will powerfully impact their community and the world and we make financial donations to numerous organizations
In addition, I am a mother of Girls Scout Troop 2305. Along with the girls, I volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes and churches. I am the Chair or the Scholarship Fund for the Association of Black Social Workers where we partner with different organizations like the Long Beach MLK center to promote healthy living. I also work with Feed My Sheep at my church where we give out food, clothing, information and attempt to address the concerns of our community. Other organizations and ways I give back include:
- The Blacklist Inc., empowering young children to be leaders in their community and believe in themselves
- Just chaperoned trip to the National African American Museum with Because God Chose Me (BGCM)
- I am a mentor to a couple of young ladies
- I help people start their nonprofits and businesses
- I help people visualize their dreams
- On most weekends you can find me going from event to event supporting various organizations and lending my voice in support of their cause
What inspired you to start giving?
I was a young, single mother of two children. From the time that my children were conceived, they were a statistic. If it were not for the generosity of others, especially strangers, I would not be where I am today.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
Giving means that I get another chance each day to brighten someone’s world with a random act of kindness. It is really my goal to make a difference in at least one life a day. Sometimes I fall short and I recognize that and the next day I make up for the day before. I will continue to give of my time, talents (not really talented), money because I believe with my soul that together we can change lives and give the next generation a chance to live in peace.
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
When others tell me that they want to give back but do not know where to start, I encourage them to get a composition book and just start writing about their dreams and aspirations. Carry the book in their bag and whenever they see something that they feel needs to be changed or improved write it in the book. Every time they go anywhere and see something that invokes any kind of feeling in their heart and soul write it down. When they are in their feelings, they should read what they wrote and then do something about it. Make a vision board. Make a list of those things that they wrote that have meaning to them. Find an organization that lends to that feeling and visit it. Keep going back. Network with others who are interested in the same cause. Start an organization that can make a change for their cause and do it with passion and love.
In everything that they do, remember that EVERYONE has a story. Please do not judge anyone by what they see because you never know what is hiding behind that mask. Never look at the person but rather how can you make that person smile if only for that moment
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
One of my favorite moments was just a couple of weeks ago. I was walking to lunch while facilitating a workshop and a parent that received meals from our community center 3 years ago came and thanked me for saving her and offered to pay for my lunch. How awesome is that?