Oakland Outreach: The Mayor, Back to School Giveaways, and Money in the Bank Highlight Year One for Alisha

If the city of Oakland, California, ever needs an ambassador, UpTogether member Alisha could be a frontrunner for the position! She’s already caught the attention of the city’s mayor because of her dedication to community service. Mayor Libby Schaff is so impressed by Alisha’s efforts that she plans to volunteer at her inaugural back-to-school drive. 

“We're doing a backpack giveaway. And that's going to be at my church. We're giving [families] a backpack and supplies and then also a little light lunch,” she said. 

Alisha Roe photo original

For weeks, the 54-year-old and her grandson, 8-year-old Jeremiah whom she adopted, have been diligently preparing for the bookbag drive. The family’s living room now doubles as an assembly line. Alisha hopes to distribute upwards of 200 bags - stuffed with composition notebooks, pens, books, and crayons. 

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“This is my first real big event on my own,” she said. “I just pull on my belief and my faith to keep me from thinking that it's going to fail… people give me donations, and people ask me, ‘How can I help?’ It's just really comforting. I'm just excited to see the people come out and get blessed.”



Alisha’s love for her hometown, and her desire to help her community, are deeply embedded in her DNA. She credits her grandmother and her mother as pivotal forces in teaching their family to always pay it forward. Alisha believes it’s her obligation to pour as much into Oakland as the city poured into her. 

“The community was there for me and my family,” Alisha said while reflecting on a time more than 14 years ago when she overcame alcohol and drug addiction. “They were there for me and my children… they helped my kids not fall through the cracks.”

Alisha is part of the Oakland Resilient Families Guaranteed Income Pilot. One year into the 18-month investment, she is proud of the strides she’s made since joining the UpTogether Community. 

“It's allowed me to get a lot of things in order for us financially, I'm not in credit debt, all of my bills are up to date, I don't have to borrow. I have money in the bank. You know, and I feel more sufficient, I feel more secure. So that's why I feel more independent,” she added.

The self-proclaimed “Oaklander” is also excited to launch her newly-established non-profit, which aims to serve and provide relief from hunger to Oakland residents. She has no plans to slow down—in fact, she wants to tap into her growing passion for community improvement and development. 

“I would like to be on a permanent advisory board or something like that. I would like to help people in housing services or become a parent advocate or help with policy making – those kinds of things. I’m just grateful to make Oakland better.”

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