‘There is light at the end of the tunnel’: Savannah woman gives back to community where she grew up

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Some know her as ‘Lady Mahogany.’ Others know her as ‘The Voice.’ But most people in the Savannah community know Weslyn Mahogany Bowers as a woman of action.

Bowers says she grew up in a low-income family in West Savannah’s Woodville neighborhood. She understands the struggle many kids in the area continue to go through. One day in 2011, she decided to help.

Bowers decided to create a non-profit organization: Blessings in a Bookbag. Every Friday, she volunteers her time to collect non-perishable food items and donate them to children who attend Otis Brock Elementary School, the same school she also attended.

“I was once that child on Friday morning…I would eat lunch and I would not get another meal until Monday morning,” said Bowers.

Bowers says the highlight of her week is always Friday: when she can see the children she mentors and give them food. She says the food helps students focus on school, which improves their grades and gives them opportunities they would not normally have.

Bowers and her childhood friend

Despite her early struggles, Bowers says she ‘dug deep’ to leave Savannah and travel the world as a professional dancer and model. She says she performed with some of the nation’s biggest stars. But at some point along the way, she says she forgot to pay homage to her hometown.

It culminated during an interview with someone who assumed she was from Jamaica. When Bowers’ brother saw the article, she says he immediately called her and asked why she did not correct the author.

It is a conversation Bowers says she will always remember. She says it motivated her to return home to West Savannah to help and cherish the community where she grew up.

“Never in a million years would I want to deny the hard work my brother has put in to help raise me,” said Bowers. “He deserves more than that. I deserve more than that. And now, as an adult, I know my city deserves more than that.”

Because of her dedication, Bowers is a constant figure at Otis Brock and she says she is proof that people care. She is constantly working hard for her organization, though she also spends a considerable amount of time as a motivational speaker, accomplished author, radio host and a mother of her 9-year-old daughter.

“I know all of them. All of my babies I know because I know their families. I grew up with a lot of them in this exact same neighborhood,” she said. “And one of the things I feel responsible about doing is showing them there is an opportunity. There is a way out.”

A few weeks ago, News 3 was there when she motivated even third graders to collect donations for students at Otis Brock Elementary School.

“Mahogany has a great spirit,” said Selina Gillans, the principal of Otis Brock Elementary. “She is loving and kind and generous to a fault.”

In addition to her work every Friday, Bowers also organizes events during the holidays to give bikes and Christmas presents to children. Many times, she donates holiday gifts to Otis Brock. Other times, she works at local churches and community centers.

“She just motivates you to do things that you never thought you could or would want to do,” said her friend, Scott Searcy.

Bowers says she will always be there for students when they are ready to fly off to new places, just like she did.

“There is light on the other side of the tunnel. But you have to make a decision to keep digging. You can’t look back,” she said. “You can’t look left and right. You can’t focus on what the other person is doing, you have to make the decision to keep digging.”

News 3’s Kelly Antonacci will feature each finalist on Tuesday in the weeks leading up to March, which is International Women’s month. Click here for each woman’s inspiring story.

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