Breaking the Cycle of Poverty through Self Sufficiency
As part of Make a Difference Week, Natasha Rodgers, Founder & CEO of the Simuel Whitfield Simmons Organization, describes how the late Rev. Simuel Whitfield Simmons was the inspiration for her philanthropy and how her organization gives back to families across the state of New Jersey.
"Welcome back. Named after a man who gave tirelessly to others, the Simuel Whitfield Simmons Organization is helping families in need in New Jersey. I'm joined by the Founder and CEO, Natasha Rodgers. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Tell us about your grandfather, Simuel Whitfield Simmons. The name just makes me smile. Simuel Whitfield Simmons... he was an amazing man. I consider him a Renaissance Man. Back in the 1960s, if I can paint a small picture for you, back in that time, it was... Newark was very dilapidated, without any resources. Children were going to school without food. Families had nowhere to live. My grandfather had a church, Humanity Baptist Church, that's on 14th Avenue and Bergen, it's still up and running today. He utilized his church for families to stop in and eat for free, be able to receive warm clothing, they had safe places to play. So he was a man that cared about his community, and thought to himself, "What can I do to better my community?" And he started an array of different programs to help families with wraparound services. How did your grandfather set an example for you in terms of the kind of person you wanted to be and the kind of difference you wanted to make? At the time, I didn't realize. So I'm just looking at him as "Grandpa". You know. And just watching all of the things that he's doing, but as I grew, I realized that he, in my DNA actually, throughout my family, was to give back. Find in some capacity how you can better serve your community. How can you help them elevate, uplift them, encourage them? And as I watched him give his life to families who were less fortunate, in the state of New Jersey, it had a profound impact on me. How would you describe your childhood? My childhood was very humble. I didn't always have food to eat myself. I didn't always have the greatest clothing to wear. So for me, to see my grandfather with our humble beginnings give whatever little bit that he had, for him he had nine children - five girls... five boys and four girls, and he would often bring children home to sleep in the beds of his children. So to see that, to see someone that didn't have much still be able to find a way to give, had a profound impact on me. So describe the mission now, of the organization. What are you trying to accomplish? What we're trying to accomplish... it says it in one word - to help. And..."