Lane Harper has led a lifetime of service, professionally as a Birmingham, Alabama police officer and personally, through decades of acts of kindness, most recently supporting communities experiencing hardship amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the co-founder and executive director of the Power of Life Foundation, 50-year-old Lane has helped thousands of children and adults across the United States since the start of the pandemic, distributing four million free masks, more than four million pounds of food and thousands of new boots, socks and backpacks filled with school supplies. Empowering underserved populations and responding to great need during the pandemic, Lane’s volunteerism is helping to change the world for the better.
What inspires you to volunteer?
It’s about reciprocity, treat people like you want to be treated. In my family, we were always very grateful for things people had done for our family. Becoming an adult, you realize the blessings that have been given to you and things that have been shared. It’s always nice to put a smile on someone’s face and be a blessing by lending a helping hand. Everybody has a story and we need to learn how to listen more.
Describe your volunteerism with The Power of Life Foundation.
As co-founder and executive director, I’m connecting with individuals in need through programs including:
- Soul for Souls: Providing shoes for transient unhoused children and people living at or below poverty level.
- It’s Cool To Be Covered!: Distributing face masks and promoting wearing masks to children to help prevent COVID cases.
We do a Turkey giveaway around Thanksgiving, and host a coat giveaway in the winter. Our Hearth and Soul program provides new coats, blankets, hats, socks and shoes to people in need, including women and children at or below the poverty level, transient men or veterans. Basically, anyone who needs help.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
We had a tornado here in Alabama, and a family lost their grandfather. We visited the site and saw the chair the man was sitting in that had been crushed. His truck had been carried ten miles down the road. This woman called us, and was so appreciative that we answered the phone. She’d called so many asking for help, and the only thing she was getting were recording services. When we actually answered the phone, she began to cry. We gathered our supplies and got her and her family household items. Volunteering is about helping fellow human beings when they need it.
You volunteer in your personal time, but you also serve the community professionally.
I’m a Black police officer in this time, so for me to be able to step out and help people, it allows them to view not just me but so many other officers in a different light, to understand we’re not warriors, we’re peace officers.
Why do you think it’s important for others to contribute to causes they care about?
We don’t realize how many opportunities people have given us. When we reach a certain plateau in our life, we feel as if we’re on a level that we never have to reach back down and pull someone up. It’s important for us to pull people up and remember the hands that did the same for us. Be grateful to the people who allowed us to get our first job, or drive a car. We can’t continue to move forward if we’re not giving back because if we’re not giving back children beneath us won’t know what to do. Everything has a foundation.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
No matter what opportunities you have, never forget where you have come from. If you have the opportunity, always go back to your hometown. Always bring something positive back to the community you left, so that you show other people that if you can do it, they can do it too.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
Fellowship. I opened my arms when I said that, fellowship. Coming together as one.
How can readers help?
Donations support all the different services we offer. Please visit our website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Lane Harper? Find local volunteer opportunities.