Action agency employee wins Community Leaders Award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency

SALISBURY — Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency (SRCAA) staff member Shenita Russell received a 2017 Community Leaders Award from the Salisbury-Rowan Chapter of the of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Gemale Black, president of the local chapter, presented Russell the award at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Banquet, which was held this year at the Livingston College Hospitality Center. Black said that Russell received this year’s Community Leader award for her work serving the community, particularly local at-risk youth as a Family Development Specialist at the SRCAA.

Russell is a lifelong resident of the Salisbury-Rowan community. She said that she follows in the footsteps of her late father, Floyd A. Kerr III, who passed away in 2016.  Kerr was a well-known community advocate in Salisbury. He was a significant presence in the city’s West End through his work at the Miller Recreation Center, Price High School, Halls Gym and many more. Russell credits her passion for “going above and beyond for the good of the community” to her late father.

She has been a staff member at the SRCAA since 2008, where she has consistently served as a vital link between the SRCAA to the local low-income community. Over the years, Russell has helped hundreds of SRCAA clients gain self-sufficiency through mentoring, job placements, home placements, transportation, guidance, advocating in court rooms, and family building. She has given her heart to each and every participant.

Russell has a special passion for helping at-risk youth gain access to education, career development and other necessary training to achieve self-sufficiency. For example, through her work at the SRCAA, Russell was able to help a young man whose life seemed foreclosed by gang involvement, to obtain a GED degree and stable employment with a local employer. Russell has developed a strong rapport with at risk youth who seem surrounded by gang life and a lack of real opportunities, who she feels “deserve a chance in my eyes.”

As to her work with Salisbury’s at risk youth, she further elaborates, “One always wonders why and what their purpose is in this world. I know why I am here, which is to help the human family. I’ve had many people pour their hearts into me at an early age. I was not always Ms. Russell, the case worker. As a youth, I was scared of what my parents would say if I did not get myself together to be a productive addition to society. Too many people took time with me, when I was trying to find myself.”

When not working at SRCAA, Russell is also known to Salisbury-Rowan residents as “DJ NEAK,” where she provides musical entertainment for local parties, clubs and corporate events.

Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity, which provides services to low income communities in Davidson, Rowan, Cabarrus, Moore, Montgomery and Stanly Counties which enhance quality of life and promotes individual self-sufficiency and community resiliency.