Hi! So it has been awhile since we have updated our blog (summer has been surprisingly hectic), but Andre' approached me and asked if I would be willing to write this one. Normally I work more behind the scenes and have little experience blogging, but I love trying new things so I agreed to give it a go and tell you alittle bit about how I became involved with the foundation and my role as well as a little more about the foundation as a whole. I'll start with myself. I am a graduate student from Hannibal Lagrange University with a BS in Criminal Justice and Pre-Law. I love volunteering and have always been involved with and love working with youth in my community of all ages. I first met Andre' Sheard the spring semester of my freshman year in college. He has always been a great mentor to me and I loved his vision and passion to serve the children in his neighborhood. He often invites college students to come volunteer during the monthly meetings, so when he invited me and a few friends to help out, I agreed. I was not really expecting much to come out of it as I had never heard him teach before and was already heavily involved volunteering for several other organizations and my home church, and wasn't really looking for another outlet. However, after meeting the kids and getting to hear some of their stories and seeing what a difference this simple meeting made in their lives. As Andre' mentioned in the first blog, many of the children come from underprivileged and single parent families in rough neighborhoods; I also grew up in a rough neighborhood and have seen the effects that it can have on those within it, I was influenced by what I saw and quickly found myself as a regular volunteer. I continued working for the foundation throughout my college career and was promoted to Vice President the spring semester of my senior year.As vice President I have a wide range of roles that I fill. This includes everything from mentoring students and chaperoning at events to attending board meetings and preparing presentations. Most of the work I do if behind the scenes as foundations take alot of work to maintain successfully. Most of what I do specifically is in Public Relations and fundraising as I manage most of our social media, coordinating events, graphics design, goal targeting, etc. (which is nothing compared to all that Andre' does on a regular basis). I like to think that my main job/goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly and successfully. I love what I do, especially as it has given me the opportunity to be a part of something meaningful and lasting. Since I first started volunteering, the foundation has undergone many different changes. When I first started, Andre' used the monthly meetings teach a bible study lesson to the children and a small meal he cooked for them. In the four years I have been involved, we have excitedly watched as those once a month meetings with a handful of children led to us officially becoming established as a 501 C3 Non-Profit organization in January of 2017. We have been able to see growth in every area as the student population has nearly tripled in size; we have expanded our meetings to every Wednesday evening as well as the once a monthly outings such as our skate night and upcoming swim day, and our yearly budget through the generosity of several incredible donors and volunteers. By January of this year, we had designed and published our website and social media, built a library for the students who were not able to make it to the public library downtown, and started fundraising to purchase transportation for the students to and from events. My favorite part of working for the Foundation is getting to develop relationships with the students and get to know them individually on a more personal level. Getting to talk to them, pray with them, and see their smiles completely makes it all worth it. I also love watching them serve and step into leadership roles within the community in various ways such as bringing meals to the elderly and disabled within the community and participating in community cleanup efforts. I love and appreciate the difference that the foundation has made in the lives of the students and individuals within the community and can't wait to see all that we will accomplish in the future.
-Morgan Puckett Vice President of the Andre' Sheard Foundation