Mother-daughter duo Dr. Shelia Payton and Bethani Payton-Thomas are dedicated AWF volunteers. Dr. Payton, a board certified Chiropractic Physician and founder of Wellspring Health and Wellness, was a member of the inaugural Inspire Atlanta class in 2018. Through her mother’s involvement with AWF, Bethani also became a volunteer and they’ve both been active and avid AWF supporters ever since. Bethani is a junior at Decatur High School and after graduating intends to pursue a career in medicine. Shelia and Bethani took time this month to share why they give their time as volunteers and what drew them to AWF.
Why do you like to volunteer?
Bethani: It all started when my parents and I moved back to America from England to take care of my great-grandmother (nana). My mom always taught me that service is what we do as humans, servicing our fellow man/women. When I was younger, I didn’t really grasp the concept of her statement, but now that I’m older I understand. Volunteering with AWF and other organizations associated with them makes me feel like I am doing the work of humanity; it makes me feel empowered, strong, and so many more adjectives and closer to my mom.
Shelia: Serving has been a part of my life ever since I believe I can remember. I grew up in a family where caring for grandmothers and grandfathers was commonplace, the thing that you do just like brushing your teeth in the morning when you wake. I was raised by a mother who professed every Sunday coming from church that “service is what you do” and so that is what we did. I like to believe volunteering was born out of who I am, a servant.
Bethani: I would hear my mom talk about an organization that she had become involved with. Over what seemed to be an eternity, she told me she would like me to accompany her on one of the organization’s events. I was amazed to see so many women of different cultures and ethnicities in one room. I was hooked. From stuffing envelopes to volunteering with my mom’s Inspired Run race, to being a math tutor for one of AWF’s grantee partners, I enjoy every minute of it.
Shelia: I am the sort of person who will make a commitment to any type of relationship only after observing. I am an avid runner. One of my dear run-buddies was an employee at The Atlanta Women’s Foundation. I would hear her talk often about AWF and how great the group of ladies running this organization were. Over a couple of years, I listened, and when there was an opportunity to volunteer I did. The Numbers Too Big To Ignore Luncheon, which featured Madeline Albright, was my initiation. I was blown away and ready to sign up that day. I had no clue that Inspire Atlanta would be my next initiation into AWF, but I am so grateful that it was.
What is one of your best experiences or memories with AWF?
Bethani: One of my most memorable times at AWF is when I helped set up the event space for the 2018 Numbers Too Big To Ignore Luncheon. I watched hundreds prepare a room for thousands of people while dancing, snacking and singing, all while focused on raising money for women and children in poverty.
Shelia: The Inspired Run. After The Inspire Atlanta class of 2018 was underway, and we realized our responsibilities, my go to event was a group run. I was overcome with inspiration and gratefulness. The kindness shown to me by all, the partnering of run-buddies, family members, business partners, and the community, completely floored and humbled me. I knew that day I was no not only a servant, but a philanthropist.