Past Dorothy Richardson honoree says award gave her confidence and determination

Girls and teens used to meet in Sharon Curry’s living room. First there were eight. Then 12. Then 30, and Curry’s house was bursting at the seams with girls meeting for Girls to Teens to Women for discussions and mentoring.

“I took it to the backyard, then to the park,” says Curry, who lives in Massachusetts. Today, some of these girls have gone on to become lawyers. Some have attended and finished college. Some are mothers. Some run daycare centers. “These girls, they are all over Boston; they all achieved their goals.”

Today, Curry continues to work with youth. Now, instead of meeting in her living room, kids meet at the Susan L. Curry Residential Community Center, where Curry serves as director. The center is named for her mother, who has also spent much of her live as a community activist.

Sharon Curry is a resident leader who is still doing the work.

Sharon Curry works with residents of the 191 apartment homes, owned by Urban Edge Housing Corporation, a NeighborWorks organization. “I took my award to the highest level I could take it,” she says.

At the community center, where many activities have moved online in the time of COVID-19,  “we have Girl Scouts, we have karate, we have first-time mothering classes, we have seniors coffee and tea hour, we have ice cream socials – I can go on and on and on. We have created so many programs so the residents can achieve what they need to achieve in the community. So much is achieved at that center.”

The goal is to make sure residents’ needs are taken care of. “It could be food. It could be rent. It could be anything important in the needs of the family,” Curry says. “We don’t turn anyone away from the community center.”

Curry continues her resident leadership by serving as president of Theroch Tenants Association for Urban Edge apartments in Roxbury and Dorchester. She is also one of the managers of the American Cross food pantry in her area, serving more than 2,000 families a week.

The Dorothy Richardson award gave Curry confidence to reach for bigger things. “It gave me the confidence that I can achieve the things I need to,” she emphasizes. As in 2012, Curry adheres to the Christian parable about the mustard seed, which compares the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed. The smallest of all seeds grown in soil, the plant can reach 6 to 20 feet when fully grown. “If you have the mustard seed and you plant it, you can watch it grow around you,” Curry says. “Those are your achievements.”

Not one to flaunt her accomplishments, the Dorothy Richardson award and others she’s received rest on a shelf in her bathroom, which she calls her sanctuary.  But she says winning the award made a difference in her determination as she worked to help and change her community.

Sharon Curry’s mother, Susan, is also a community leader.

“I’m going to continue to go on with my goals,” she says. “If Dorothy Richardson could stand up and raise her hand and say she wanted change, I can stand up and raise both my hands and see that there is a change.”

Normally presented in the fall, the 2020 Dorothy Richardson awards will be presented and celebrated during a virtual ceremony on February 16. Six outstanding community leaders will receive the awards and recognition for creating positive change in their communities.

Read the original Neighbor Works article here.