RALEIGH, N.C. — Just under 37,000 people call southeast Raleigh home. The population is about 68% Black and, prior to the 1960s, was once the site of Raleigh’s thriving Black Main Street.
But while other parts of the city have flourished since then, many residents feel like southeast Raleigh has been left behind.
“There's children that are growing up in these communities, that are seeing these acts of violence, that are seeing the impoverishment of these areas and don't have a sense of hope,” says Deonica Sanders, who was born and raised in Raleigh.
According to a study completed in 2019 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate of southeast Raleigh was 24.2% compared to the city-wide total of 12.6%.
“We have to — as people right here in the southeastern part of Raleigh, have to voice the changes that we want in our community. It’s not enough just talking about it. We really have to put the ground work in and really move our feet to really get those changes going,” Sanders explains.
To pave the way for change, Sanders and her brother, Daniel McCullers, who now plays as a nose tackle for the Chicago Bears, started the 3 STONES FOUNDATION to raise funds, and promote initiatives to serve the area’s youth and those in need.
Last summer, Sanders hosted an outdoor movie night as the first event put on by her foundation.
“The kids were shocked and surprised because they had never seen anything like that in their community — they didn’t know how to react. They want to thrive, they want to have more, but they don’t necessarily feel like they deserve it,” Sanders adds.
Sanders created the foundation in honor of her mother, Phyllis McCullers, who passed away in 2019.
“She was such a giving and loving person, and I knew that I wanted to do something to make her proud so she could see that I'm taking her strength and her sense of giving, and I'm putting it back out into the world because I know if she was here, that's what she would be doing,” says Sanders.
If you’d like to help the 3 STONES FOUNDATION grow, visit their GoFundMe page.
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