Mrs Oluyinka Adewoye is the elegant woman of style who founded Lawrence Grace Foundation to bring smiles to faces of widows and indigent students beyond the shores of Lagos State.
In this brief chat, she shares her success story, challenges and what the government could do to ameliorate the challenges facing the less privileged in Nigeria. Excerpts…
Tell us a bit about your journey so far
It’s been four years of touching lives and impacting several lives of widows and indigent school children. Indeed, it’s been a journey. Starting off a foundation with almost nothing wasn’t so easy but the determination to be a blessing to several lives and putting smiles on faces of the less privileged kept us going. Thankful to God for how far we have gone, we’re constantly improving with our approach of impact. And thank God for the provision and support from our partners, volunteers and others.
So far, we have empowered over 2,300 widows with free trainings on various vocations, free health consultancy and free medications, several gifts and food items to support their families. We have also had several programmes to impact the lives of indigent school children with over 2,300 children while some of them are being sponsored in school by the Foundation as well. We usually hold programmes in different communities. We work with the LCDA officials in such areas to get to the Widows. Every year, we hold at least four outreaches in various deprived communities both in Lagos and other states.
For Christmas, we are having our ‘LGF Christmas Party’ which is for 300 widows from various LCDAs in Lagos State. It holds on December 10th, 2023.This is to give them gift items for their families for Christmas and also celebrate the season with them and give them the sense of joy. Special thanks to our chairman, partners, volunteers and all who have supported the vision so far and constantly encouraging the works and blessing the Foundation financially and morally to be able to execute all our events. We are hoping for grants soon as we aspire to do more in the coming months and years for the less privileged.
Your NGO caters to the underprivileged in society. What sparked your desire to do this?
It’s about fulfilling purpose. I realize this had been in my heart for a while even before the Foundation started. So, it’s more like running with a vision. I feel so concerned and burdened when I see widows with no support system and no resources to even train their children. Life to me is about impacts. How well we are able to put smiles on faces of the less privileged.
How do you think the government and other well-meaning individuals can also contribute?
The poverty level in Nigeria is extremely high. There are too many living in abject poverty. So, the government has a lot to do to reduce this situation in the country.
We can have many more poverty alleviation programmes by the government parastatals. The people need trainings on what can put food on their table, more free vocational centers can be set up to cater for all that and definitely more NGOs can support the less privileged in various ways.
Entertainment and entrepreneurship are currently the highest employers of people in the world. How, in your opinion, can these people be encouraged to earn from their talents?
We need more people to believe in themselves. Self-discovery is key. It’s important to identify first the talent or gift and begin to showcase it. The more they become more confident of the innate abilities, the more they are able to sell these skills and talents and showcase it to the world. So, we need to encourage more self-confidence, self-awareness, excellence and diligence so that these talents can become marketable and enjoy patronage and profits.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what else you do?
I’m a banker by profession. I have been in the banking industry for 16 years. I am also a certified human resources professional. Beyond those two, I also run an event management business. That, for me, is a passion. I love organizing and planning events. So, really, I have interest in different aspects of life. I only try to manage the different aspects well with good support systems for efficiency. I believe each person has unique talents and gifts, and time management, discipline and diligence are the ingredients needed to make a success of them.
What is your fashion sense like?
I’m a fashion and style person. People often call me ‘Fashionista’. And this has been me right from childhood. I love to look good. I run a fashion business on the side which started out of my passion for fashion and style. I also style people, even though I have not been appropriately monetizing that well. Smiles. I believe style is a way to say who you are without having to speak it. Also, fashion is life-enhancing and like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.
Where do you see your humanitarian efforts in the next five years?
By the grace of God, we want to become a global brand making impacts globally.
We are called to make impacts and empower thousands of lives. We look forward to have in five years, impacted and empowered more than 100,000 widows and school children.
What would you want to be remembered for?
Winston Churchill says ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ What I long for is a life of impacts, not just about acquiring the material things of life. There are several people out there that have no means to pay back but need
the help. The smiles we are able to put on thousands of faces through our empowerment programmes, relief materials and free medications and consultancy and much more is my greatest source of joy.