#communityovereverything: Deirdra O'Neal

If you’re a member of CityCentral, you know that we love our communities. At CityCentral Richardson, we were fortunate enough to have Deidra O’Neal and her organization, YBS Kids, join our community earlier this year. Deidra has a passion for her community and for providing resources and assistance to the kids within that community. She has found ways to educate those kids and teens using her personal experiences. Being their biggest cheerleader has allowed her to watch them succeed. Here are a few words from Deidra! 

YBS Kids stands for Young Black and Suburban Kids, and we are a non-profit based out of Plano, TX, that I started in 2019. We are dedicated to teaching young people cultural history, life skills, and ways to empower them for a better future.  We focus on teaching our kids things we wish we were taught as kids. Last year we learned a lot about financial literacy, funding for college, and how they can start paying off student debt while in college. 

Covid-19 hit us like everyone else, and we went virtual. Despite this challenge, we grew! We had new kids join us every month, and now we even have members as far out as Houston and Phoenix! 

At YBS Kids, we also try to get the kids involved in the community. I believe it’s so important for the community to pour into it’s kids and for the kids to pour back into their community. Learning how to escape the distraction of life and help others who are in need is such an essential life skill. The world can never have too many empathetic and kind-hearted people. YBS Kids participated in TangoTab, a meal-donation program based in Plano, to instill this virtue in the members of our program. We also partnered with Danone North America and donated over $20,000 worth of classroom supplies and culture books to over 20 elementary and middle schools in Plano ISD. 

I started YBS Kids because my kids inspired me. I have 4; my oldest is in 10th grade, and my youngest is in 2nd grade now. I’m originally from Los Angeles, and I grew up going to after-school programs like YBS Kids. The speakers and teachers I grew up listening to at these organizations were African or African American, and I didn’t notice how important that was until I became a parent. When I enrolled my kids in an after-school program in DFW, I realized they were the only black kids there. It was never a problem for me until I watched how excited my daughter became whenever another African American kid joined her class or organization. I noticed that my kids were lacking the guidance and exposure I had when I was young. I knew then that they needed to belong to a club or organization that uplifted their culture and heritage.  

The most rewarding part of my job is finding new needs! Life is wonderful, but it can distract us from the needs of others – that is until we take an active role in finding and fulfilling the needs of others. Before I started being active in my community, I didn’t notice how many kids went hungry in Collin County. Being able to help fill that need for those kids means a lot to me. One day, I read that Black and Latino kids are less likely to graduate high school and go off to college, and YBS Kids sought to change that. We’re about to start a new series called “Are you College Ready?” that will give the kids tools to prepare them for college and beyond. Our goal at YBS Kids can be summed up by a very familiar phrase: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” 

We want to thank Deidra for taking the time to speak with us and share her passion for her organization. Check out the YBS Kids website to see how you can help and get involved!

Katy Harrington
Katy Harrington
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