In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting outstanding community volunteers dedicated to making a difference all year long.
Diallo-Sekou Seabrooks developed the nonprofit Urban Geoponics to raise awareness about food deserts in Jacksonville. Starting with the area he grew up in as a child, he opened the first two community gardens in North Jacksonville. His work with the community gardens led to an opportunity to partner with Edward Waters College and the New Town Success Zone to develop and maintain The Farmacy Project, an initiative to educate the community and youth about sustainability, agriculture, healthy eating and lifestyle. Despite COVID-19, Diallo developed a program to build and deliver elevated garden beds to seniors and veterans who lived in food deserts in North Jacksonville. In addition to his agricultural advocacy, Diallo is passionate about uplifting and educating youth. He fights for equity by speaking to local representatives about the challenges faced in his community and championed solutions to social injustice such as body cameras for Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Here’s what Diallo has to say about being a Northeast Florida Changemaker:
• Describe the person or event that inspired you to give back to the community.
It wasn’t an event; it’s just been in my family since I was a kid. We’ve always given back. So, it’s generational.
• What would you say is the most rewarding aspect about volunteering?
Having a direct impact and when I can see the change in the area and the people.
• Describe the moment you realized your volunteer efforts were making a real difference.
One thing that sticks out is when my vice chair called me about Flint, Michigan. The day after President Obama said it was a national emergency, we went to Flint passing out water door-to-door. We drove from Jacksonville to Flint twice in one year to pass out water. The third time we went back, we did a health workshop. Social media helped get more volunteers from Jacksonville to support the cause.
• If you could inspire people to do one thing to make Northeast Florida a better community, what would that be and why?
To give of yourself is the highest form of spirituality; give of yourself and not expect anything in return. Also, giving Black people reparations in an effort to achieve equity. We’re dealing with a population that didn’t have a 300 or 400-year head start and we’re behind. Other populations have been compensated for the mistreatment they’ve received in this country. Then, we can move towards liberation because liberation is important to the Black community.
• What advice would you give someone on the fence about whether or not they should volunteer in their community?
Go with your conscious. Do some research about the organization and the impact they’re having. Just do it and then you can start looking for your measurable results. Aspire to achieve a direct impact with a measurable result within a specific time frame and that will let you know if you need to adjust.
Because change doesn’t happen alone, people like you are needed now more than ever to uplift the most vulnerable in our community. You can find a variety of community service projects, including opportunities to uplift historic East Jacksonville, at unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer.