My name is Sahar Lawrence. I am a woman who cares deeply about the well being of my community. I am someone who leads by example. I developed a passion for community development in low-income areas from working many years in the nonprofit sector and from being a longtime resident of Roxbury. I am the Chair of the Grove Hall Trust (GHT) and a Community Engagement Officer for Urban Edge Housing Corporation. Along with the Trustees of GHT, I direct grant dollars to residents, groups, and/or small organizations that want to enhance the quality of life in Grove Hall.
The Grove Hall Trust was founded on the belief that communities know what they need to improve their outcomes, and sustainable impact comes from shared risk and responsibility. Our foundation is built upon the principles of pooling knowledge and resources, and fostering collaboration between families, the community, and donors. Our goal is to improve community capacity and leadership while increasing the flow of educational opportunities, jobs, capital and social connections that can help end the cycle of poverty in our neighborhood.
As the Chair of the Grove Hall Trust my biggest challenge is keeping my peers involved while finding innovative ways to grow. As the neighborhood dynamics change, I hope to help Grove Hall residents have more access to opportunities that strengthen social connections and equity while also empowering them to have control of their story.
My greatest success so far is the collective success of the Grove Hall Trust. The Trust has been able to thrive despite board turnover. We have great things in the works and we are successful because of the collaborative nature of our mission to enhance the quality of life in the Grove Hall neighborhood. By partnering with community institutions such as the Burke High School to host a resource fair, or SkyLab Boston to train the next generation of young women entrepreneurs, we are making our mark in the city.
My vision is to see more young women of color as thriving business owners, as professionals in the STEAM(ED) field, and overall, as movers and shakers in the city. I am motivated by my mother. Despite the challenges she has dealt with, she is a force to be reckoned with within the community development and community organizer fields. She is a resource and advocate for so many people. I aspire to be more like her.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
"Take ownership of what you do before someone takes it for you." I heard this quote from Melissa Kimble of #blkcreatives during her recent speaking engagement in Roxbury.
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.