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A Discussion with Sheena Favors on Living to Motivate Your Community

The children are our future, and Brooklyn-born Sheena Favors is working hard to give them the opportunities she never had. Sheena Favors did not grow up with a lot of money and didn’t have the programs or services she needed to thrive. Sheena Favors is on a mission to collaborate and work with as many […]

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Sheena Favors
Sheena Favors

The children are our future, and Brooklyn-born Sheena Favors is working hard to give them the opportunities she never had. Sheena Favors did not grow up with a lot of money and didn’t have the programs or services she needed to thrive. Sheena Favors is on a mission to collaborate and work with as many charitable organizations and programs as possible. Sheena Favors works at a youth centre in her local community and is focused on bringing funding and structure to children with the greatest need. Whether it is through after school programming, tutoring, or extracurricular activities, Sheena is dedicated to championing the importance of giving back and donating to your local community.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

Empathy plays a big role in my career. Having grown up without the opportunity resources to thrive, I have become passionate about helping others achieve success in ways I never thought possible as a child. The thing I love most about working in a non-profit capacity, is being able to help other people along their journey, giving them the skills and confidence, they need to grow, build and sustain healthy communities.
 

What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by the gift of seeing others thrive. From a ‘thank you’ to seeing a child excelling in a program, the thing that keeps me motivated is the value and joy my work brings to the lives of others. At the end of the day, if the programs we run benefit only one child, then it would have all been worth it. I believe that the ultimate motivator is losing yourself in the service of others, and I am grateful to fill this role every single day.

How do you motivate others?

Inspiring motivation in others is all about leading by example. I believe that motivation has to come from an individual, and being able to see the benefits of leadership, hard work, and determination in others is the best motivator there is. If I want a child to show compassion for others, I do my best to show compassion for them. If I want a child to work harder, I show them how hard work can be rewarding. Most children just need inspiring leadership to motivate them towards a brighter future, and that is what our youth centre hopes to do in our work.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a solid work-life balance. Sometimes work takes priority, and sometimes quality time with family and friends takes priority. The key is staying attentive and self-aware enough to know when either one becomes too much.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

Being a successful leader is all about pushing through failure after failure without losing enthusiasm. Strong leadership is allowing other people to feel comfortable making mistakes and encouraging them to keep going no matter how difficult it becomes. A bit part of being a successful leader is having compassion and empathy for others. When children are having a difficult day, we are patient with them and listen to their needs. Too often, leaders place unrealistic expectations on their team that they themselves cannot uphold, for this reason, I am careful to balance my standards and expectations of others.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
I was once told—to paraphrase Maya Angelou: “If you do not like something, change it, if you cannot change it, change the way you think about it”. This piece of advice has stayed with me for years. The first part of this statement is what motivated me to work with youth. The second part—“if you cannot change it, change the way you think about it”—is about coming to terms with things outside of your control. Throughout my years of experience working with the community, when things happen outside of my control, I must be at peace with them to be a better leader in my community.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment, as generic as it may sound, is being able to give back during the Holiday season. For some, the Holidays are a time for family, warm food, Santa Claus, warm cookies and milk, and presents, but for others, it can mean hardship, struggle, and adversity. My greatest accomplishment is being able to give back at a time of year that really makes a difference in a child’s life, creating meaningful memories.


What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?


My one piece of advice to others is to consider giving something back to your community at least once a week. Whether it is giving spare change to someone experiencing homelessness, volunteering to be a tutor for a child in need, or just spending an hour at a retirement home lending your ear, it is important to be a participant. As a society, we feel more disconnected than ever. Being able to connect with your local community, taking initiative to hear their stories, see the world from their perspective, is crucial to building a stronger society.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

The biggest life lesson that I have learned is that individuals who act out through anger, frustration, and hate, are acting out of pain. As the saying goes, ‘hurt people hurt people”. Throughout my time working with young communities, I have learned that these outwards acts of anger are an external expression of internal pain. The hardest thing to do when someone acts this way towards you is to be compassionate, but often it is exactly what they need. 

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