By Danaé Reid
In these unprecedented times, community is what we need now more than ever. When something as grandiose as a pandemic happens, it’s so easy for us to go into survival mode, thus forgetting those communities of people that are more vulnerable, i.e. the underprivileged /homeless populations. Because of this, it’s important that we’re all doing our part to make sure that our underserved brothers and sisters are being taken care of. The president of Bona Fide Giving, Tanya Garris is here to talk to us a little about what she’s doing and how we can help
DR: Tell us a little bit about the driving force behind Bona Fide Giving. For example, how the idea to start a nonprofit came about, where the name came from, etc.
TG: I have always had a passion to serve being surrounded by many influences. Twelve years ago, I decided to utilize my platform as a model, socialite and event promoter. I wanted to expand my reach as a philanthropist. My passion for children, the ‘future’, and the less fortunate especially, made me want to do something to add smiles to their faces, especially during the holidays. My Bona Fide Annual Toy Drive was launched around that time, and I’ve done it every year since. I have received tremendous help and contributions from so many donors. The feedback and the blessings from my network have allowed me to meet and surpass my goal. One of the things I’m most proud of is the work I’ve been able to do with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s child life program for the past decade. Most recently, the shift in our society, (pandemic, social injustices, etc.) have affected our communities and the encouragement from my loved ones inspired me to create this movement for impacting more lives, hence Bona Fide Giving, Inc. was born.
The name ‘Bona Fide’ has been in the title of all of my ventures. It is both an homage to my father who named me Bonique and adds meaning to my projects, (true, real, authentic). I wanted the title of my organization to sound like an action when pronounced.
DR: The mission of your organization Bona Fide Giving, is to help people by improving their communities, thus encouraging them to be the best they can be. My take away from this statement is that you believe that there is a direct correlation between a healthy living environment/community and “success”. Is this a fair assumption? Why or why not?
TG: Life is always better when we are loved and receive support from others. We accomplish so much as one body versus individually. Bona Fide Giving is here to push, help and assist communities in their everyday lives.
DR: Your tag line, “Love for humanity has no limits” is pretty straight forward, but there’s probably a lot of people who would argue that love for humanity actually DOES have a limit. Explain what that statement means to you.
TG: I have a strong faith that is driven by love. Where I stand today after overcoming adversities is a testament to the unconditional, shielding love I’ve received from some amazing souls. Had it not been for them, I would not have been able [to] be as strong a supporter for others. I understand what it’s like to feel hopeless and in need of help. It is because of that unconditional love that we are beginning to see the changes in the pulse of our society. There is no limit to receiving, which means here’s no limit on giving, regardless of what one’s circumstances may be. How we utilize our resources and share them creates a better community.
DR: Knowing that there’s a surplus of communities that are underserved, marginalized, and ignored, how do you insure that you’re upholding these values and filling the needs of these individual communities?
TG: As I emphasized in the last question there is no limit to what we can accomplish with love. With our resources and other organizations we’ve been blessed to collaborate with, the experience is far greater than what I can achieve alone. With volunteers, mentors and examples of kind hearts such as yourself to learn from, I am gaining so much knowledge that allows me to push Bona Fide Giving to higher potential and uphold challenges as a team and a community. While teaming up with other organizations, i.e., Everybody Eats Philly, there’s always room to expand upon the services we provide. Whether it’s a smile or a meal, hope is there — Bona Fide Giving is there.
DR: How often do you do projects in your community and how often do you venture off into other areas? Also, what do your community service efforts look like?
TG: My primal focus is supporting Black communities. During this quarantine, Bona Fide Giving has had opportunities to serve every day of the week. We are committed to providing services for the aforementioned organization! We have served/delivered gifts of love to other efforts in places like New York and Flint, Michigan. Some of our services include providing volunteers with meals, preparation before community events, pick ups and deliveries of supplies for distributions and/or drives. Homeless outreach has been both organized and random. We try to keep Bona Fide Giving care packages for them on our travels, wherever we go. Volunteers we can depend on are always appreciated and help us maintain commitments throughout Philadelphia and beyond.
DR: How can people get involved with your organization and/or help your cause?
TG: We are gracious for contributions from kind hearts in so many ways. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @bonafidegiving. Clicking share alone can go a long way and we appreciate that as well. Information regarding our upcoming efforts are shared on these social outlets as well. Our website (www.bonafidegiving.org) provides information on our mission, ways to donate, volunteer and more. We also have an online shop available for those who would like to donate and help us spread the word by wearing our apparel.