SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If paying it forward was a person, it would be Moncello Stewart.

By profession, he’s an administrator in Savannah State University’s Maintenance and Facilities Department, but his passion is wrapped in community.

“Born and raised in Savannah —Tatemville. I’m a west side baby. Haven, DeRenne, Beach High School. So, I came up through all of those things,” Stewart said. “And growing up in those areas and being a part of the community really taught me a lot and we had such a love for community.”

That love has translated into lifting others up, from Dancing with the Stars for CASA to raise money for children in foster care to lending a hand to those in need.

This modern-day renaissance man has a heart to serve.

“That is my passion. It’s something I love to do,” said Stewart.

He said two people played a key role in finding his passion.

“My little league football coach, Prince Johnson, who coached me at the GBD Saints Football Team in Tatemville. He really showed me what it was to take young, urban kids and do a little more with them,” Stewart said. “And I knew at that time that lasting impact was going to create the spaces that I’m in now.”

His other inspiration: Mrs. Ernestine Jones.

“Ernestine was president of the Liberty City Neighborhood Association. Wife of Alderman Clifton Jones,” he said. “Ernestine used to pick me up from school at Beach High School and drop me off at home. And she would always say, ‘I’m not going to drop you off at home until you go to this neighborhood meeting with me.’”

He added: “But what I found out was, some of those things that they talked about in that meeting resonated with me. And as I got older, I wanted to participate in my own neighborhood association.”

Today, Stewart lends his time and talents to various volunteer and community-centered organizations. He’s president and CEO of the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce and immediate past president of the Savannah chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

“We just do so many projects. We have a goal of hitting about 30 to 35 projects a year,” Stewart said. “We have great partnerships — Future Minds, Loop It Up, Shelter From the Rain — you name it. We do some kind of work with them all.”

Between meetings and making things happen, he is also the founder of his own nonprofit One Seed. The idea is to be a mini nonprofit for nonprofits.

“Something much smaller than the United Way. My goal here was to provide mini-grants and board training for smaller nonprofits and small community groups,” Stewart explained. “So, every month I give a $500 mini-grant to a small community group. People that we see in the community.”

Stewart says being involved gives him a sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing he’s working to create a better future.

“I really want to create a better Savannah,” he said. “I want people to see that it doesn’t have to impact you for you to help. I want people to see that we work better as a community together.
And those things are my driving goals.”

We want to shine a spotlight on people like Stewart who are giving back and making a difference in the community. If you know someone, tell us about them. Just email payitforward@wsav.com to send us your nominations.