CANTON, August 5, 2021
Some wives of Pro Football Hall of Famers are doing more than enjoying the festivities this week.
They organized a Day of Service Thursday at the YWCA at 231 Sixth St. NE.
- DeBorah Little, wife of enshrinee Floyd Little, class of 2010.
- LaTresa Doleman, widow of Chris Doleman, class of 2012.
- TiAnda Blount, wife of Mel Blount, class of 1989
- Tara Greene, wife of Kevin Greene, class of 2016.
- Beverly Lofton, wife of James Lofton, class of 2003.
- Dinah Stephenson, wife of Dwight Stephenson, class of 1998.
About 75 people, including community leaders and shelter residents, took part.
YWCA CEO Shana Smith said Little reached out to her in May.
“We immediately began brainstorming the possibilities,” Smith said. “This is designed to promote the importance of literacy and hope.”
Hall of Fame wives stress literacy, giving back
Little, de facto leader of the group and a strong advocate for literacy, said the plan grew as they discussed it. The wives donated children’s books and presented a check for $3,700, which Smith said will be used to purchase two sets of washers and dryers for shelter residents.
“It’s because of you that we are here,” she told the audience. “This community has shown, time and time again, shown us so much love in so many ways.”
Rich Desrosiers, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s vice president of communications, introduced Little and Smith, adding that wives of enshrinees try to do charitable events in Canton every year.
“DeBorah feels strongly about literacy and empowering single and underemployed mothers,” he said. “The YWCA fits right into that mission.”
LaTresa Doleman said giving back has helped her in her grief over the death of her husband, enshrinee Chris Doleman, who succumbed last year to brain cancer.
She started a nonprofit for brain cancer awareness and serves as an advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society.
“I lost the love of my life,” said Doleman, who is also the reigning Ms. America International. “When I lost him, I was lost; I was devastated. It was only through God and God’s strength that got me through. It’s still a process.”
Lifting each other up
While some of the wives read to preschoolers at the YWCA Early Learning Center, others participated in a “Women Empowering Women” discussion that included Tammy Monroe from the Kent Area Chapter of The Links and Sondra Perry, wife of former Pro Football Hall of Fame President Stephen Perry.
“For me, women’s empowerment means to help lift each other up,” Blount said. ” It’s our responsibility as Christian women, as mothers and wives, to share our experiences to lift women up and shorten their learning curve.”
Perry said everyone has the gift of empowerment and can choose to use it, but it’s also something that also can be achieved by simply listening.
“You don’t always know when you’re helping another person,” she said. “You don’t know what the other person is going through. We must also empower people 20 and under. They need encouragement. They’re afraid to speak up.”
“There is power in the tongue,” she said. “What you say is either going to build her up or tear her down.”
The panelists also shared personal challenges, noting that several Hall of Fame wives have lost spouses in recent years.
Little said empowerment is about lifting up others.
“You are empowering Shana Smith and the work she and her organization are doing by showing up and supporting them,” she told the gathering.
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