By Carlissa A. Shaw, Esquire
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and all that is good with Memphis, we want to highlight just a few of the hundreds of young people giving back in Memphis. Our city has so many bright and shining stars working tirelessly to create better systems, policies, and access to resources. You heard it here; first, Memphis will look nothing like the city we see today in 15 years because of the heartwork young people are doing in this city.
Mario Bradley // @Grovehero
The Frayser High School graduate is an author, internet sensation, comedian, local serial entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Known by most as Grovehero, Mario is inspiring the next generation of Memphians in one of our most underserved communities. Whipping his “Is the fish ready yet” food truck around the M, GroveHero is quickly turning into the neighborhood hero. Over the last several months, GroveHero has used his internet-based platform to promote a positive message. In September, he hosted a “Guns Down Block Party” where the community could safely gather for free food, fun, and entertainment. This summer, he hosted a “Put the guns down and pick up the Water guns” water gun fight that offered fun, free food, and a positive message.
Mario said he is inspired to give back to his community because he knows that no one really has anything and nobody is doing anything to help. He said, “when you grow up in the neighborhood and see the needs and understand the experience, it is mandatory for you to give back if you got it.”
Shawn Harris // @_shawn_harris93
This Central High School graduate comes from a lineage of Memphis Track legends and community servants. Shawn is the grandson of the late Mary Joyce and Nick Harris, two of the founders of Memphis Hurdlers Track Club. They founded the track club with the hopes of inspiring Memphis youth to hurdle obstacles and giving them a positive activity to occupy the summer months. Shawn is currently running his leg of the family relay race of service by cultivating the next generation of elite track and field. He is the head track coach at Bellevue Middle School, Assistant Track Coach at Central High School, and volunteer coaching began with YTFM ‘15. Over the last five years, Shawn has won two track championships, helped produce over 25 All-Americans and two national champions.
Christina Crutchfield // @cecfield91
Christina is a Memphis transplant with strong ties to the community. She works for the Heights Community Development Corporation as a community coordinator. The Heights is a neighborhood-based organization focused on bringing good healthy development into the Heights Communities. The Heights works on housing development, business/commercial development, and public space development, such as parks and libraries. Christina works to make sure every project is community-led or, at the very least, has community support. She also makes sure outside investors have the best interest of the community. If they do not, she raises awareness, makes a ton of noise, and works with the local government to shut it down (specifically with blighted or abandoned property).
Nikolaus B. Knight // @nikatknightt
Nik currently works at Dunbar Elementary in the Historic neighborhood Orange Mound. Nik views education from a holistic lens, and leverages his networks to raise money and awareness for black male students in low-income areas. He believes in transforming educational spaces so that they are safer for black children to thrive, and training black male teachers to build virtual inclusive and engaging classrooms. Often, Nik provides additional food and supplies to his students by facilitating huge donation drives to the students in his community. Over the last few years, Nik has been on a mission to give students an experience they deserve and fill in the gaps between what is and what’s possible.
As the holiday season approaches, find a way to give back. Our community needs your time, talent, and treasure. Follow groups like Volunteer Memphis for opportunities in your area. MIFA, the Union Mission, and the Salvation Army are just a few non-profit organizations that always need a helping hand to lend a helping hand during the holidays and throughout the year.
Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities on Thanksgiving Day
- Community Meal Distributor – YMCA of Memphis & The Mid-South
- Community COVID-19 Testing Volunteer – Cherokee Health Systems
- The Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace Museum
- Pick-up Site Volunteers – Memphis Tilth
- Guest Hospitality – Room In The Inn – Memphis