Saying ‘YES’ to Volunteerism
Conway trio pitches in to provide housing for homeless
By Dwain Hebdads
Nevada and Diamond Alexander may just be entering ninth and 11th grade, respectively, but the sisters already have a better grip on what’s important in life and the community than people several times their age.
“Growing up, I never really did have that much of a role model,” Diamond said. “I’m surrounded by a lot of people younger than me. It makes me want to be at least one tiny positive thing in their life.”
“Volunteering has taught me to be prepared for the world and help people that don’t have the experiences that I have,” Nevada said.
The young women’s attitude toward others brings their grandmother, Leeretta Winston, to tears.
“I’m so proud of them. I see that they have really flourished well from the services that they’re in,” Winston said. “I just see that they’re getting a true understanding of what it is to be a helping neighbor, to lend a hand, to not just want to make money but also do a volunteer service.”
Diamond and Nevada have lived with their grandmother for the past two years. The girls’ aunt, Virginia Halcombe, is guardian of a third young woman, Skyler Nobles, who is entering her senior year at Conway High School and rounds out the trio. All three demonstrate the importance of a village in raising good, civic-minded young adults.
“[Volunteering] has taught me self-discipline, taking care of my business, handling what I need to do. It teaches you life lessons like what you don’t want to do for a job,” Skyler said. “For instance, if you have a family it’s important to know what you do and don’t want to do so that you can support your family.”
All three teens have been active in Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County, Skyler for five years and Diamond and Nevada for two. The feeling they get from helping families get into their own home makes the time they spend worthwhile.
“I got interested in Habitat through friends,” Skyler said. “I had a friend, she lost her house. She had moved from Mayflower to Conway and she was telling me how she had got a house through Habitat. I was like, this sounds good, so I went ahead and got with the people and it started from there.”
“Habitat for Humanity is important so we can help out poor families,” Nevada said. “I’m going to be busy going to Habitat for Humanity doing some community service the rest of the summer. I also participate in helping elderly people.”
The trio is active in Young Empowered Sisters (YES), a mentor program in Conway targeting African-American girls. The program has provided direction, opportunity and caring adult role models for club members to emulate.
“The YES program has taught me how to carry myself in public, especially being a young African-American female,” Skyler said. “It taught me how I need to set examples for children under my age, ask questions if I have questions in the community, and just give a helping hand when I need to.”
The trio finds additional ways to help out in Conway, from handing out backpacks full of school supplies to random acts of kindness to the elderly in their neighborhood. The accumulated goodwill and self-worth they have achieved as a result of these activities isn’t lost on Winston.
“What gets me is, they were so excited when they came from doing people’s yard work. I mean, ‘Grandma, we did this! We did that!’” she said. “I just see that they’re good girls, all three of them are. We’re just praying for them.”