The social thinker. The philanthropist. The humanitarian. Sometimes our purpose manifests in ways that stretches beyond ourselves and those we know and love. Some are driven to work to improve the well being of humankind by preventing and solving social problems. This is not the same as charity. Charity focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems. Philanthropy focuses on eliminating social problems. Humanitarianism requires a person to actively engage in promoting human welfare and social reforms. The social thinker has no prejudice with human suffering - not by gender, sexual orientation, religion or race. The goal is to positively contribute to lives, relieve suffering while allowing the person to maintain dignity by bringing heart, as well as skill, to the table.
RICHELLE K'LONI SMITH
You can find Richelle K'loni Smith supporting the homeless at a local shelter or gathering clothing for the homeless, or maybe raising awareness for those suffering from social, civil and/or natural disasters. She is a person who actively engaged in promoting human wellness and social initiatives to improve the community.
K’loni, tell us your story:
A day and life of Richelle Smith consists of getting up early even if I went to bed late. I am up early thinking, processing and preparing. The pandemic has changed the way a typical day would go. I am a Social Work Intern for a Massachusetts Public School district but am currently off for the summer. Typically I am on at least 3-4 zoom calls a day; I am doing more research and finding innovative ways to network and connect with students within district guidelines. After 5pm I am preparing for class; I am a current Master of Social Work and Urban Leadership Certificate candidate at Simmons University. I am always working but in between I find way to incorporate self care, fun and socializing. My weekends I spend with my family and work on projects.
Many know you as K'loni Sky. Who is K'loni Sky? Is there a difference between Richelle and K'loni? If so, where do the 2 meet?
K'Loni Sky is a name given to me by the amazing music artist DQuest when I was first starting in the local entertainment business. K'Loni Sky is an artist, a visionary, a woman looking to share a message. K'Loni is a shortened version of my middle name Kalonie. Which I was told is Hawaiian for sky. Hence the name K'Loni Sky. Richelle is my first name, professional name. If people know me as Kalonie they know the creative side of me, they know the family side of me, they know the extroverted side of me. Those that know me as Richelle know the business side of me, they know the advocacy side of me, they know the operational and tactical side of me. The two names are currently infused and have been incorporated into every aspect of my life.
Shout out to DQuest -
I know you sit on boards and work with a variety of entities. We've collaborated on behalf of some of your passions. Can you name a few of the entities you are currently working with and please explain their mission/s ?
I am currently a Board of Directors Member for Ruth's Way for Women a non-profit that serves women in recovery, homeless women, homeless veteran women through sober housing and life skills. I am also a member of a school based organization called FORJ - Families Organizing Racial Justice. I am also an Urban Leadership Dean's Fellow for the office of Community Engagement and Social Justice at Simmons University.
You are by definition and by action both a Humanitarian and a Philanthropist. You actively promote human welfare. On what areas do you focus and why?
The areas of interest and focus for me are Marginalized groups - including the homelessness/unstably housed; issues concerning Black women; and how Public Policy affects marginalized groups particularly Black and POC. I am also an advocate for women's rights; families and workforce development.
My passion for helping the homeless/unstably housed manifested when I worked for a public health organization. I got to meet, work with and help some amazing resilient people. I dug deep to understand their needs which include basic necessities like clothing and toiletries. It's hard to feel good when you don't look good. And so there I started a clothing initiative where I would collect and distribute clothing to the homeless in a dignified manner. Started it in 2015 and still going.
There are a lot of issues concerning Black women, and as a Black African American woman I have first hand knowledge of those issues and challenges that are faced on a daily basis. There are issues in healthcare, issues in family systems, issues in employment, issues in equity and equality. My focus is helping the Black woman tap into her inner qualities including self love. In the future I will be running groups for Black women, and this is where I will tie the Black family into my practice. The Black woman is often the pillar of the Black family. It's historical and contextual. It's real.
As I started my journey in Social Work school I became so intrigued by public policy and it's affects on marginalized groups. My plan is to explore this passion further.
I am the women's woman! I believe in the power of women, the voices of women and the ability of women. All women, all colors, all ethnicities all over the world. Who run's the world...GIRLS!
I also have a passion for helping people discover skills and find jobs that align with their skills. For 2 years I worked with the Goodwill - HELP Program where I would conduct workshops and help participants with interviewing, networking and applying to jobs.
Are your children involved in this work? If so, in what ways?
My son is running his own organization called BIO - believing in ourselves where he incorporates basketball, community and self-determination into short films to showcase the hidden gems in the rough. He wants everyone to know there is more to the 'hood' than what meets the eye.
My daughter loves to sort the clothing I collect and she helps me place it in bags. She also loves to donate her clothing and toys to others.
Why is it important for us to take an active role in the community?
Our community has always been looked down upon. People do not know how much love is in our community. It's important for us as occupants and natives of the community to represent it in ways that make people question the very lies, and biases they've come to believe about our community. Each of us can do our part just by living authentically in love and determination.
What suggestions can you offer to those who want to do more in their community but are unsure how to do so? Where does one start?
Start with your passion. Start with something that puts fire to your soles. If you want to help people what about people do you want to help them with? Do you have a passion for cooking? Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Do you like to draw - draw and donate pictures to nursing homes or hospitals. There are so many avenues to turn. Don't like seeing trash all over the ground start your own neighborhood clean-up day. Make connections, don't burn bridges, stay your journey, and be intentional.
How can we join in your mission and help support you?
I am ALWAYS looking for clothing donations. Men and Women clothing. AND I am always looking to build upon my networks.
Stay in contact with K'Loni: