Mobile Augusta

Thu. Oct. 30 9:35 am
Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010

Woman learned from family to help others

Staff Writer
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Monique Braswell organizes and serves during a Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Lake Olmstead Community Center.

Giving is a way of life for Monique Braswell.

It's something she learned growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., said Braswell, who is more commonly known in the community as "Dr. Mo."

"I've always been a giving person. I'll take a dollar and divide it up amongst nine people," she said.

"It all started when I was child. I come from a giving grandmother. My grandmother always gave and she would literally give her last. She taught me not to be selfish. It's always been a part of my lifestyle. "

Following in her grandmother's footsteps, she started her giving ways in Brooklyn, she said.

"The slogan used to be, 'If you have nowhere to go, you got to go to Mo's,' " she said, noting she would house people who needed a place to stay. "When I was in New York, if you wanted to eat, come to my house. All of the Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners were at my house."

Since moving to the Augusta area nearly seven years ago, she has organized many outreach activities such as an annual book bag drive, can food drive, the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, and coordinates adopting families for Christmas.

She created an initiative to recognize area children who go above and beyond to give back through the Child Service Awards.

She also organizes breakfast, lunch and dinner events for first responders such as police officers, firefighters and EMTs as a way to honor them for their work. Braswell credits the community's backing as the reason that the activities have done well.

"Sometimes I have over 100, 200 people actively participating in events that I come up with," she said. "It's everybody else who works right along with me who make all these activities successful. It's not my doing. The community makes these things happen."

Braswell is also active with area organizations and schools, including being a board member for the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority; Murphey Middle School's Parent Teacher Association president; Georgia District 8 community outreach chairwoman for PTA; and president and founder of Ceriously Certified MC .

While many see her as someone who continually gives to others, she said, she also knows what it's like to "go through some tough times."

Seven years ago, when Braswell moved to Augusta with her four children, she and her family didn't have a place to stay.

"We came into a transitional program with CSRA EOA. I moved here to give my children a better life and better medical," she said. "I wanted something better for my family."

She didn't take being in the program lightly, she said.

"I wanted to do the right thing. I followed their rules. I complied with all their regulations," she said. "I got in the program on a Monday, got a job on Tuesday. I was out of the program in 8 months, though it was a two-year program."

Once she got out of the program, she remembered the help she received and wanted to give that back to someone else in the program. She had extra furniture from when she was in Brooklyn, so she decided to donate it to the program for those who could use it, she said.

She then encouraged people from the community to help sponsor children and families in the program during Christmas.

"That's really how things here got started," she said. "From that moment on, I just kept going and never stopped."

Her own personal experiences have only fueled her desire to give.

"It motivated me because there are people out there who have been told no over and over again. There are people who are just going through some tough times. You see these people, but you never know how they truly feel or what they're going through unless you have been in their shoes," she said. "I just want to help people, I don't care what their color, background or ZIP code is. If they need help, I'm going to try to help."

Despite her involvement in the community, she doesn't consider herself a "community activist."

"I want people to know that first I'm a wife and a mother," she said. "People tag me as a community activist. I really don't see myself as being a community activist. I don't. I just see me as a person who has a vision and will go all the way through with it. I will let nobody deter me. Whatever idea I come up with, I'm going to see it all the way through to the end. I'll always continue to give."

ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF

Monique Braswell organizes and serves during a Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Lake Olmstead Community Center.

\nZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF

In addition to serving holiday meals, Monique Braswell has created programs to honor area children and first responders. \n Braswell has been helping people since moving to the Augusta area about seven years ago. Before that, she served holiday meals and helped people in need in Brooklyn. N.Y.

Index