Fine Feather Foundation executive director
For many, it takes years to realize their true meaning in life. For me, this didn’t happen until I moved to Allentown where I found my true passion. Struggling with an abusive past, I strongly loved singing and songwriting. It helped me cope with everything I had been through as a child. After years of pursuing my passion, I used it to help at-risk youth in Center City Allentown.
I lived in New York City for most of my life after coming to the United States from Jamaica. I moved to Allentown in order to be closer to my dad. I instantly fell in love with the city and it was a nice change in pace from where I came from. Growing up I wanted singing to be my career, however, I found a deeper purpose. During my time here in Allentown I decided I wanted to have a positive impact on the youth of my community and that is why I decided to become the executive director of the non-profit organization Fine Feather Foundation that gives at-risk youth a healing space for a couple of hours each day. I never saw myself growing up going in this direction. However, it felt like God was pulling me this way.
Art has always been a healing space. Unfortunately, here in Allentown art programs are not readily available. If I can provide a program where these kids will be able to free their minds for a couple of hours each day then that is exactly what I am going to do. Our programs range from art classes, to dancing, to even podcasting. The best part about our program is that each program is curated for each individual child is based upon their needs and what they want to do.
Most recently we have started a summer program for children who are at high risk and even includes a recital at its conclusion. Unfortunately, one of the biggest dilemmas that I face is deciding whom I can accept into the program due to our limited resources. Over the last year, I have received around 100 applications of children requesting to get into the summer program. It is disheartening to have to turn some of them down. In order to find the most at risk my team and I had to face the daunting task of compiling a list of criteria that each individual and family must meet in order to be accepted. It is sad to have to turn away kids who may need help because we do not have enough resources at the time. We are however planning on growing and expanding our program in order to accommodate more kids who are at risk.
My goal has always been to inspire the next generation. I hope that if this generation can see that I made it out of a situation that I was in then maybe these kids can believe that they will be able to do the same. I want to be able to take what has happened to me and turn it into a purpose. The energy and passion that I have for helping out my community is contagious and I hope that it helps to brighten up the outlook that we have on our community and the city of Allentown.
Interviewed by Ronnie Grevera ’23, photo by Tom Amico