October 22, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story

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Lakeshia Allen, 35 

Resident Services Coordinator at Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority

click to enlarge lakeshia_allen.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Every morning at the bus stop, people ask Lakeshia Allen if she knows what happened last night. What’s going on? She’s become the go-to for people in public housing, which serves as her favorite accomplishment.

“People are more open to talk to me about the issues they have,” she says. “If they’ve fallen into a bind, they’re like ‘Oh, Miss Allen has a resource for me.’”

These resources can include legal aid, classes on financial literacy or reaching out to organizations that can help. She’s hoping they encourage people to take responsibility for themselves, finish school and be involved in the community. 

Allen also coaches robotics for middle school girls, helps high school students build their brand and celebrates their achievements with a trip to Florida that she funds out-of-pocket. While there, they do community service projects and reach out to people who have the students’ dream jobs. 

She’s trained to teach free fitness classes, runs a bike club and a running team on the weekends. It’s all about making sure people know there’s always something to do.

“You just need a boom,” she says. “I think that it comes a lot when you talk about mental health and building people’s self-esteem for them to understand that they can do it.”

And if you say there’s no way to do it? Allen says it’s no excuse. She’ll get you there.

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