Read about Simone Edwards' efforts to help children in Seattle and Jamaica.
Seattle Storm center Simone Edwards created Simone4Children, an organization to assist economically disadvantaged children in Seattle and Jamaica, her home country. The group, along with Seattle International Dream Center, also helps to feed dinner to the homeless in downtown Seattle every Thursday evening.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work
did/do you do?
I've been helping kids from a very young age because it's my passion. I do not have a lot of money, so I knew I needed help to continue to help kids. This is why I started my foundation for helping children, especially the ones who are abused or have lost their parents. I love children, and this is why I want help and to further educate
myself on how to make my foundation grow to help many more kids.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Simone:Simone4Children, Seattle, WA
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Simone: I am helping children in Jamaica and Washington who are struggling emotionally from abuse or other unstable family problems. I also help children with school supplies and other stuff so that they can stay in school.
What inspired you to get involved?
Simone: While I was growing up in a small village in Jamaica, I saw the children around fall out of school because of financial difficulties. I vowed that I would help as many kids as I can if and when I can. My love for children is the biggest reason.
I am blessed because I was offered a basketball and volleyball scholarship without even knowing how to play either game at the age of sixteen. I practiced the games for a few months, and in the end, took the basketball scholarship. I never played high school basketball because it wasn't available. I also was a counselor in a Youth Leadership program.
How did you first get involved?
Simone: While my mother worked hard to support my brothers and I, I stayed with her best friend whom I now called Mama. She raised me as one of her own eight kids. Next door to Mama there was a family of seven. The father smoked a lot and seem to spend most of his money on cigars and gambling. The mother was a beautiful woman, both inside and out. At the age of 10 I was picking plums and mangoes to sell next to Mama on the road side. Every penny would go towards my zoo and beach fund. Every weekend I would take the three younger kids from next door to the zoo with me because their mother was very sick.
Before my friend's mother died, she called me into her room. She was lying on the bed with little strength. She said, "Simone, thanks for taking good care of the kids, and may God bless you." I had tears in my eyes as I left the room. She was all they had in their lives, and she was dying. We were all so young, and I couldn't imagine losing my mother. Those kids were my sisters at heart. I played school with them and took them to the zoo every weekend. They are now great students, and I know their mother would be proud.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Simone: Making a difference in children's lives. I have had letters from parents thanking me for being a part of their kids' lives.
What is/was the hardest part?
Simone: Not being able to financially help more kids. There are so many children who are held back by poverty.
What was the biggest surprise?
Simone: Making it this far - from a small village in Kingston, Jamaica, to the WNBA - and having the oppurtunity finally to help many kids.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Simone: I travel the world, and I've been a part of children's lives from different countries. I've learned that it doesn't matter what languages children speak or from which country they come. They are still children, and their needs are the same in many ways.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Simone: You have to have a passion for helping people and a big heart.
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