John: I’m here with Kershel Anthony who is a Model Citizen and founder of his own charity called THIS IS MY SWAG foundation which benefits children right?
Kershel: Yes, thank you. It actually benefits Children of all ages their schools and communities that don’t have the funding to provide important programs such as physical education, social emotional learning & leadership programs. What we also do is partner with other organizations in the community to support the homeless, churches and children hospitals.
John: What is it that inspires you to want to help children in schools, children’s hospitals and the homeless?
Kershel: I’m just a passionate person. I believe I’ve always wanted to help people. I think, for me in my life, growing up through my childhood I felt like I needed more help and guidance. I had struggles , many unanswered questions. I was confused. Many of my classmates were going through their own struggles. Don’t get me wrong , I had a good childhood. Great community , good schooling. I can only imagine those who didnt have that , their struggle . growing into a young man I met people that used their power and passion for the good. It wasn’t about the money , it was about the movement for them. I wanted to be that. I turned my passion for dance to a passion to impact the community using my talent .I’m blessd to create a foundation where I can pinpoint trouble situations, raise money and be able to answer and provide for whatever’s going on.
John: It’s no secret that I had my own troubles and was diagnosed with a chromosome condition which was affecting my circulation, my heart and organs. I didn’t work for years and I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, like many others. You shared with me that you had a time in your life when things were the toughest, they’d ever been right? You are single father?
Kershel: yes a I’m a single father to the most amazing boy any parent would have. His love and passion is through the roof and is already utilizing it. I can’t be more proud. So imagine being homeless for two years and raising a kid. What???? Crazy!
John: Please define homeless for us.
Kershel: I had a car, that’s what I lived in. I survived by having some amazing people around me , being a fitness instructor I utilized the gyms to take showers and changed throughout the day.
John: And nobody knew right
Kershel: I was homeless, and I was still working 7 days a week. I was still traveling, doing major events, teaching children and adult classes. School programs, personal training. Oh yea, dropping and picking my 10yr up from school. I think I was the busiest homeless man ever. lol
John: But you couldn’t afford to live anywhere?
Kershel: I’ts not that a couldn’t afford it. Credit is a big thing. I never had a credit card. I was built on if you don’t have the funds then you don’t buy. But that really did’t work because I needed to build my credit . But even with the cash , I was getting shut down. Even with all my credentials . It could have been many reasons. I believe Racial profile had places reject me. Places I had friends with same situations be able to be in . it could have been whatever. It’s the world we live in and you have to learn to navigate. It definitely was the weirdest time. I felt like I couldn’t get out there. I had a child, so with him sometimes it was a hotel, sometimes a drop off at Grandma’s or friends That’s the life I was living for a little bit, while I was trying to build the life I’ve always wanted to have. You learn alot. A lot of haters and non believers. But if you are truly passionate about things nothing can stop you. That’s what made me so tuned into what I wanted to do.
Kershel: OMG, So motivated.I couldn’t stop. It didn’t matter that I was living in my car.I was still living my life better then those who were in houses. I was loving my job and what I was creating. I had and have relationships with people who have more money than you can imagine who are living miserably.
John: I think many of us, as Model Citizens, we find the inspiration from our own adversity.
Kershel: By far. So true
John: And we all share that very honestly, so thank you for sharing that about your life. Now tell us what you do with all this energy.
Kershel: 1st I’m trying to share it with the universe and it will happen. But for now my next project is on September 26th at Eisenhower park 9am . I’ts called Swag Day. My Foundation is called, “This is My Swag foundation ”.
John: I love it by the way, very cool.
Kershel: Thank you. So, what we’re doing is, since we cant have a gala to raise money like we usually do .
John: It was a great gala by the way.
Kershel: It was absolutely amazing, in the short time we did it, we got so much. All I wanted to do was build awareness and partnerships. Let the community know that there’s another organization out there looking at the well being of your children and the younger generation. Everyone came out. a truly blessed night. Thank you to my team and all those that supported. We got to keep the energy going.
John: What are you doing differently this year?
Kershel: This year, on September 26th, we’re picking the top 50 Swagateers, that’s what we call them, from whoever has done the most work in their community and raised money, will be able to dance at the event on the 26th.
John: So, you have a dance event?
Kershel: Correct, at Eisenhower Park.
John: Eisenhower? As a side note my father was the President of the Long Island Roadrunners Club at Eisenhower. He was the founder and we used to run around the park every day. That’s how my father kicked my ass. I would finish wrestling or football practice and he would say, “it’s 5 O’Clock!” We would meet and run around Eisenhower Park. It’s very sentimental for me, my father was an ironman. What field are you in?
Kershel: We are in the Dogwood Field, right next to the ice rinks.
John: That was where I had my first keg party.
Kershel: Really, that’s great. It’s right on the corner, very shady and a great location. There are two parking lots. What we are having the children do is to work for it. We are providing different things for them to do, whether it is an activity in the packet we send them or something they come up with on their own. Things like writing letters to a children’s hospital, to nursing homes, or homeless shelters.
John: Things to help people that are struggling.
Kershel: Yes, being a Swagateer is not just about raising money, it’s about being active in the community. So, we are teaching the kids to do both those things. To be active in the community, whether doing their own thing, or something we provide for them to do in the packet, and at the same time, ask “Hey, we’re trying to raise money. I want to be in the top 50 people selected for this event.”
John: Based on will.
Kershel: I don’t know if anybody remembers the Bike-A-Thon. That is what it is. Going house-to-house and saying, “hey I’m an advocate in this community and we need to build awareness and raise money to keep our community healthy “
John: They’re still doing that. A lot of charities still do that.
Kershel: Are they still doing that? That’s basically what we want to do, just get the kids inspired. We want to build these young kids up. I want the them to see the results from their hard work. We need these programs in the schools. IT’S A MUST
John: And what charities do you give money to?
Kershel: The charities we focus on are children’s hospitals and homeless shelters and we are also doing a huge food drive.
John: A lot of people are still hungry.
Kershel: Everybody’s hungry. We’re doing a huge food drive, there’s a huge need. That’s a major concern. Every kid, every adult, no matter what, if they just want to donate, they can bring a food donation.
John: Thank you so much for sharing your story and for all that you’re doing. I’m so proud of you for opening up about your struggle. I know what that’s like. My father worked for the Department of Homeless for 20-years and if it was Christmas Eve and we got a notification that there was no heat at the battered women’s shelter, he’d get up from the Christmas table. He was passionate, we were all passionate about helping.
Kershel: Thank you so much. Especially now during this crisis, it’s so important to step up and stay focused. I’m grateful and blessed. I have a great team behind me, and we are very passionate about what we do.
John: You know what the Model Citizen moto is? Live in gratitude, pay it forward and cherish your chapters of love.
Categories: Model Citizens Magazine