Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Kim Sherobbi
Kim Sherobbi is a native “Detroiter” who lives in the same house she grew up in. She is on the Board of Directors of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center, a SWF partner organization in Detroit that aims to help grassroots activists develop into visionary leaders. Her relationship with Sweet Water Foundation began in 2011 and has been growing ever since. Sweet Water Foundation’s relationship with Kim is one of many that demonstrate the intersection and similarities between people and communities across the nation. We are excited to highlight Kim’s work as we collectively work towards tackling this country’s most pressing systemic problems. Read on to learn more about Kim.
Tell us a little about your background:
I’m a native “Detroiter” who has lived in her childhood house her entire life, except when I was away for school. But I would say that doesn’t count. I am a retired Physics teacher with Detroit Public Schools. I think is important to say that because it gives some background into my interactions with families and children.
Aside from that, I started off as a general volunteer for what I call “traditional organizations” like “Boys and Girls Club”. Then, I came into this “social justice, humanitarian, and environmental” kind of activism by way of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center. Now, I’m working in my neighborhood, which is similar to Sweet Water Foundation. I do programming with young people, mostly around education. Some young people from my community and I are putting together a landscape design for a lot that’s on a major street in the neighborhood so it can become a creative and safe space. My focus is on creating alternatives to this “America” that we are living in right now.
What is your relationship with the work of Sweet Water Foundation?
My relationship with Sweet Water Foundation actually came through the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center. As a member of the Board, I engage in community building activities. In 2011, we met the Executive Director of Sweet Water, Emmanuel, at a work conference. Since then, my relationship with Emmanuel and Sweet Water Foundation has been one of “like minds.” We’re alike in how we want communities to flourish and thrive. I love to see all the work Sweet Water Foundation is doing in the community. Our relationship is a mutual relationship of community building - learning, building, and supporting each other.
Why do you think the work that the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center and Sweet Water Foundation are doing is important?
I think our work is important because people need to know that they are not alone. It’s not just people in my community that are doing this work. The reason it’s important to have a relationship, commitment, communication with each other, and to share ideas and thoughts is because it helps people and communities understand that we’re not alone and that there’s other people who are thinking and doing the same things. Many people are unhappy about the way the American system works - it’s not fulfilling for people, actually it’s the opposite. Our system devastates many people, so it’s important for people to understand that there are a group of people who believe that they can actually find the wherewithal within themselves to create a new system and a new way of living. When more people understand that, they are more empowered - and the closer we’ll be to getting a kind of America we really want.
Is there advice you want to give to people who want to take initiatives of their own?
The work of creating what you want to see is not short work - it’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of living, thinking, and being. I think sometimes people want it to be short and quick, and that’s not true. I know that with the work we’re doing, we may not see the end result in our lifetimes - other people will benefit from our work. I try to be really clear with people that this work takes a lot of endurance and patience, especially around social and governmental dynamics.
I also try to remind people that in this work, it’s very important to find people you can share with and talk to. They can help you pull all the pieces together to sustain yourself. Sharing and reflecting with a group will help sustain you.