"I could have gotten a yacht and never come back, but we just have a heart and mind to do this work."
What would you do if you won the lottery? Buy a new house, a car, a boat, a trip around the world?
After winning $429.6 million in a Powerball jackpot last year, Trenton, New Jersey resident Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven adult children decided to do something else entirely: they’re using their prize money to help those who need it most.
As a result of their good fortune, the Smiths have established a charitable foundation to help the poor in Trenton’s drug- and crime-aflicted South Side.
“I could have gotten a yacht and never come back, but we just have a heart and mind to do this work,” Valerie Arthur, one of Smith’s children, told the Times of Trenton.
The Smith Family Foundation will work with Trenton-based organizations, “one grant at a time” to “empower the community, cultivate leaders and transform lives through leadership development programs,” according to the Times.
Pearlie Smith, who worked in Trenton public schools, shares her philosophy of giving back with her children. One daughter, Katherine Nunnally, heads a program that mentors young women, and the others have volunteered with their church and local soup kitchens.
“I think that seed has always been with us … but after winning the lottery, we’re able to do it on a much larger scale now than we have in the past,” Arthur told the Times.
The Smiths attribute their good luck (they spent $6 to buy the winning ticket at a neighborhood 7-11) to “divine intervention.” Their decision to use their windfall to help others is an inspiration to us all. As an editorial in the Times of Trenton put it:
We’d say it was an act of divine intervention that brought the Smiths to our midst, allowing all of Trenton to bask in their generosity and civic spirit.