Fighting for her community

Talethia Edwards is very vocal at community events, as was the case when she attended a city-wide meeting on crime.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Edwards relentless in efforts to improve quality of life in Bond
By Daria Laycock
Outlook writer

There is nothing in Talethia Edwards’ community that she ever finds too difficult to do.

When she realized that there was a low literacy rate among students in the school that her children attend, she started a program to improve grades.

She’s undertaken a campaign to rid her neighborhood of drugs and prostitution. Edwards even questioned Tallahassee Police Department when crime-fighting cameras were being installed in the Bond Community. It wasn’t because she felt the cameras weren’t necessary, but she wanted to be sure people’s rights weren’t being violated, she said.

If there is a cause that needs a champion, Edwards is there, said those who know her vigor for improving the quality of life in Bond Community – a Southside neighborhood that is known for having a high crime rate.

But Edwards is taking every measure she can to change that.

“She is constantly doing something to help someone else,” said Anita Edwards,  sister-in-law. “She gives cancer patients rides to doctor’s appointments, she’ll give young mothers diapers and wipes. I’ve literally seen her fill up some body’s fridge.”

Edwards shows up for every community meeting and often is the voice of those who can’t attend.

As president of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association, Edwards is relentless in her effort to bring change. She’s also a member  of the Tallahassee Lenders Consortium, Early Childhood Development Consortium and Title One Advisory Council.

In part, Edwards is driven by a need to make her surroundings better for her seven children; ages 3 to 12. So much so that when she found out about the literacy issue at their school – Bond Elementary – she initiated a weeklong celebration of literacy.

Through the event, she raised money that was given as bonuses to students who met their reading goal.

“The students loved the energetic activities and were thrilled to receive the cash,” said Bond’s Vice-Principal Terri Martin.  “We are grateful to Mrs. Edwards for her energy and dedication to Bond Elementary and the Bond Community.”

Edward has seen a lot of the ills in her community first-hand but none struck her like the day she and her children were flashed by a female walking the streets. Edwards immediately took action.

“Ma’am, do what you got to do, but don’t do it on my street,” she told the woman. “I’m trying to raise my children here.”

The woman apologized.

In another instance, Edwards was tipped off by a homeless man that a house in her neighborhood with a high tenant turnover rate was being used as a drug depot. Again Edwards took action.

Between the long hours that Edwards works as a community engagement specialist for the Department of Health, she makes spending time with her husband, Harold, and children a priority. That creates a balance that makes her resilient in her community work, she said.

But there are times when she feels a need to step away.

“I have to force myself to do things for myself,” Edwards said. “I literally say ‘I’m going to do this for myself’ and then I disconnect from everything else and do it.”
Reading and writing are some of the things that Edwards enjoys doing when she isn’t writing in scrapbooks and journals.

Every project she takes on in her community is documented. She approaches every one with a sense of purpose.

“I always like to do bigger and better things,” she said. I try to see what the community needs and serve that need. I try to see what was done prior and determine how to do more.”

Edwards realizes that the work she has taken on seemingly is endless, but she said she carries on because it’s a calling from a higher power.

“The need is never ending for sure, but I’ve been called to do this work,” she said. “I get frustrated, I do want to quit sometimes but my passion is to help people in general and that keeps me going.”