Employee Spotlight: Defying Statistics to Become an Agent of Change for Youth
Each month, we shine a light on a Points of Light employee who is making a difference in their community. These stories of service highlight the individual volunteer efforts of our dedicated staff, what motivated them to get involved and how service has inspired them.
Lucretia Doyle is living proof that society’s expectations of you should never dictate what you choose to become. The daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother, Lucretia overcame the obstacles she faced at a young age and became passionate about empowering youth with the knowledge that they are capable of doing extraordinary things despite their backgrounds. She currently serves as senior program manager for recognition at Points of Light, overseeing the administration of the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards, a national volunteer recognition program that encourages citizens to live a life of service.
In 2016, Lucretia’s passion for youth empowerment led her to create the Patricia A. Doyle Foundation, in memory of her mother. The foundation provides book scholarships and care packages to youth who have a current or formally incarcerated parent. The young adults served by PAD include high school seniors, GED graduates, undergraduate and graduate students, and Lucretia is at the forefront of reminding them of their outstanding potential. She is optimistic, relentless in service and is an inspiration for us all to never place judgements on the lives of others based on where they come from. We spoke to Lucretia to learn more about the PAD Foundation and her dedication to helping youth unlock their full potential.
What was your first volunteer experience?
My first volunteer experience was when I was 9 years old with my grandfather, the late Elder William T. Doyle. We delivered meals to seniors with the Meals on Wheels program, and fed or clothed the homeless in the community he pastored in, Covington, Georgia.
What inspired you to create the PAD Foundation?
I was inspired to create PAD to give back to youth who had an incarcerated parent. It was established and incorporated in July 2016 as the Patricia Ann Doyle Foundation Inc., named after my mother. She was a formerly incarcerated parent who served five years in prison for a crime she committed. Eventually she was released, obtained her GED and went to nursing school. I was the child of a formerly incarcerated parent, and I am the first on the maternal side of my family to graduate from college and graduate school. I wanted to provide a resource and give back to youth who are in college and who have experienced the same issues I had growing up. In its first two years, the PAD Foundation provided $1,500 in college scholarship money to four youth impacted by parental incarceration.
Why is engaging youth in a civic culture so important?
I believe youth need to learn to give back at an early age. This will show them early on what the true meaning of empathy and compassion are. I was able to use my youth volunteering skills every day. I am currently the alumni chapter president for Herzing University in Atlanta and the youth coordinator for my church. I am a mentor to two youths, and I always serve as a changemaker in my community.
What advice do you have for someone who is trying to break the barriers and expectations that society has placed upon them?
The statistics said that I was five times more likely to be incarcerated because of my mother’s incarceration. I'm a living witness that this is not true. I'm an overcomer, I'm a changemaker and I'm a leader for today’s generation. I don't take my past for granted because it made me who I am today: a leader. I'm grateful for the trials and tribulations because they made me stronger as an individual. Many are called but only a few are chosen to do this work, and my calling is to be a change agent for the youth and my community.
What have you learned from your experience as a volunteer and leader?
I learned that life is what you make it, so you have to make life worth living. I have learned to be compassionate and to understand the needs of others. I'm able to be an inspiration by sharing my knowledge and experiences. I believe that a true leader will assist others by making a difference and showing constant support. I’ve also learned to not allow people to take me for granted. Don’t neglect the need to pour into yourself and always grow.
Has your experience with volunteer service influenced and/or affected your career? If so, how?
It has definitely influenced me to be more empathetic and relate to individual needs in the community. I inspire this generation through both my career and passion of being a changemaker.
What is your dream for the PAD Foundation in the future, and how can people get involved?
My dream for the PAD Foundation is to be able to give out more scholarships and care packages. I would like to expand the program by adding services for students who need to obtain a GED or skills like Microsoft Office. Additionally, providing summer camp vouchers for low-income youth aged 5 to 14 years old and giving young business leaders the entrepreneurship skills they need would be a dream.
There are many ways people can get involved. Anyone can send in-kind donations for care packages that include snacks, nonperishable items, gift cards, hygiene products, cleaning products, give monetary donations or volunteer at our yearly benefit concert held in October.
What advice do you have for others who are looking to turn their passion into action in their communities?
My advice is like the Nike slogan, "Just Do It.” Follow your passion or dream to make a difference in your community by being an agent of change. Everyone will not support your passion, but if you believe your passion can make a huge impact, please make it happen. My favorite quote is, "Many are called but only a few are chosen." May the work I do and the way I do it bring faith, joy and a smile to all who I come in contact with daily.
Want to make a difference in your community? Visit www.allforgood.org to find local opportunities to get involved.