Shirley Snowden honored for help to African women and children

Source: Nicholas C. Stern
Photo by Bill Green
Photo by Bill Green

Winning awards was the furthest thing from Shirley Snowden's mind when she began organizing aid to women and children in Ghana eight years ago. The work was just an extension of a life given to serving her community. Growing up with a mother and aunt who had little, but were always willing to share their time or provide a meal or a bed to those in need, made a lasting impression on her.

"My parents never turned away anyone who asked for help," she said.

Others noticed her efforts however, and on Monday she will receive a leadership award at the United Nations. Snowden retired in 1999 from teaching math in Frederick County Public Schools. She has been a member since 1965 of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs Inc., which gives time and money to help young women better themselves.

When she heard the NANBPWC had nominated her for her work as a liaison between the group's mid-Atlantic district and the international affairs division, she was a bit taken aback.

"I'm not the only volunteer who contributed to the international affairs program," she said. "We all did and we all do."

Snowden became acquainted with NANBPWC's work in Africa at a national meeting. Photographs of villagers without the basic necessities of life, let alone money or uniforms required for school, inspired her to act.

"My feeling was that those women and children were entitled to as much as we can offer them," she said.

Snowden has raised funds for everything from pre- and post-natal care to bricks, wells and toilets for schoolhouses. She said $30 provides a year's worth of uniforms or school supplies for an elementary student in Ghana; $300 is enough for a high schooler.

"Anything you can think of that they have a need for, that's what we support," she said.

Though Snowden has yet to see firsthand the faces of the women and children, or the infrastructure she has helped to build, she would like to travel to Ghana someday, she said.

"But I feel I can do just as much supporting them from this end."source: By Nicholas C. Stern News-Post Staff, The Frederick News Post