College Senior and AmeriCorps Member Focuses on Improving the Lives of Those Around Her

Daily Point of Light # 7591 Jul 7, 2023

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree T’Kiyah Threatt. Read her story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

T’Kiyah Threatt, a 21 year old passionate about her fashion and her faith, grew up in west-central Alabama in Uniontown, a town of just 2,037 residents. With 11 siblings, her family is not an insignificant part of the community. T’Kiyah became interested in volunteering from a young age but really dove into service when she started working with C.H.O.I.C.E., an organization that ensures young people get the resources they need, as a high school junior. Three years ago, she became the first president of the Youth Advisory Council and began leading mentoring efforts, going above and beyond to find funds for a scholarship for a deserving mentee. Even after moving away for college, T’Kiyah returns to work with her own mentee while recruiting community partners and soliciting funding for programs.

Since then, she has taken advantage of training opportunities offered by community partners to hone her leadership skills and enhance her ability to serve. She is currently serving her second term with AmeriCorps, volunteering for 35 hours each week while preparing for her senior year at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she majors in psychology. Her dedication and empathy for others will serve her well as she seeks a career as a mental health therapist with her own practice. Her bubbly personality and determined kindness invites others to pay it forward and endears her to everyone in her path.

What inspires you to volunteer? 

I started here in Uniontown, which is how I found my mentor. She’s the founder and executive director of a nonprofit. I started hanging out with her, and we’d always have these big backpack drives. I remember going to the drives and seeing volunteers when I was young, around seventh grade. That sparked a fire in me. 

I knew I wanted to do something of that nature, so I started getting my feet wet in different areas of service. We started with backpack drives and did fundraising to help out in the community, community cleanups, working in the community garden, etc. I went to Memphis with UAB’s Blazers on Break last spring break to plant another community garden and help out in a food desert. That was very near and dear to me because we, too, are a food desert; we don’t have a grocery store in my own hometown.

I found AmeriCorps through C.H.O.I.C.E. My mentor partners with them and told me I should apply to this position. That first summer, before I went to UAB, I worked for AmeriCorps Vista. And when I got the hang of it, I was like ‘Okay, I can do this again.’ So that’s when I transitioned over to do the full year of service with AmeriCorps. It’s a heavy schedule but it’s worth it. It’s very rewarding.

At the Mid-South Food Distribution, T’Kiyah [left] and fellow University of Alabama students package and seal many pounds of cereal for those in need./Courtesy T’Kiyah Threatt

Describe your volunteer roles with C.H.O.I.C.E. and AmeriCorps. 

AmeriCorps is so flexible that I’ve been able to work with both. With AmeriCorps, I’m the communication coordinator at my site, so a lot of the work I do is virtual. I help manage social media, so if we have an event coming up on campus, we’ll put together a project for social media or create a flyer. We’ll create QR codes and videos, as well.  

We do a Self-Care Sunday post, too. Every Sunday, I’ll post about things like stress, sleep, self-care or tips for going off to college. A lot of college students follow the page, and while we’re doing outreach, we’ll promote our class and other events. Within AmeriCorps at UAB’s campus, we’ll go out two or three times every week to teach about and promote self-care for college students. We will have events like Jeopardy and Bingo to promote key topics. 

With C.H.O.I.C.E., since I’ve been home, I’ve done mentoring and tutoring. We have a summer feeding program, so I’m up there twice a week for when the kids come. We make sure they’re getting lunches and have an activity planned out for the day. It’s kind of like after-school care but during school hours since it’s summertime.  

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?  

Mentoring and tutoring kids has been really rewarding. When I first started, they were young, but now they’re growing up and getting ready for college. I enjoy being that resource for them. 

T’Kiyah [middle] and other students from University of Alabama prepare to plant a community garden in Memphis as part of Blazers On Break alternative spring break./Courtesy T’Kiyah Threatt

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?  

I’ve learned to be a resource as well as learn, because as I’ve been educating students, I’ve learned that I need to be educated first. I’ve learned to learn from others, whether it’s good or bad. And I’ve learned to just do things for people because you can. If you can do a nice thing for someone, just do it. I would say my biggest lesson is that it costs $0 to be kind.   

Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about? 

With my AmeriCorps service ending in August and graduation in May, I’m excited about venturing out and getting more jobs within the same field. Which direction I want to go, I’m not sure, but I’m most excited about getting a federal job. 

Why is it important for others to get involved in causes they care about?   

I think it’s important to do things you’re passionate about, so that you can do it wholeheartedly. No one will have to remind you to do it. No one will have to chase you down or keep telling you, “Hey, I need this.” You do it because it’s something you love and really care about. 

What do you want people to learn from your story? 

I want people to learn that where you’re from doesn’t determine the work that you can do. Because where I’m from is very small and rural. Everyone knows everyone. I just want people to know that you can be whatever you choose to be. Just always be kind, and always be willing to learn. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like T’Kiyah? Find local volunteer opportunities. 

Kristin Park