When Anthony Watson, senior engineering technician, visits his home country of Liberia, he doesn’t show up empty handed. Instead, he brings computers, clothing, books and love— anything that will help kids grow and learn. This year, REACH (Respecting Ethnic & Cultural Heritage) employee resource group is honoring Anthony for his tireless work giving back to those in need, especially in his home country of Liberia.
“My passion to give back comes from growing up during the devastating civil war that occurred in Liberia,” says Anthony. ”I had an opportunity to come to America and get a good education; not many of these kids have been given opportunities. I’m determined to make it better for them and I’m driven to do what’s necessary for them to succeed.”
In 2005, Anthony wanted to give back to his home country, which had been ravaged by 14 years of civil war. He placed a barrel at his service center so employees could donate items he could take back with him. This spurred him to create the non-profit Loving Arms for Liberia as a way to do more and give more. Since then, Anthony has traveled to Liberia five times, bringing more and more each time, and has greater plans in the works.
After building three learning computer labs and wells for clean water, Anthony is planning on building a community learning resource center.
The non-profit still needs a lot to make this happen. The most important is capital and monetary donations in order to bring this vision to life. Anthony says, “We also need school supplies: computers, pencils, notebooks, crayons and equipment needed to enhance the capabilities, mobility and the quality of life for the visually impaired.”
And the shipments overseas keep getting bigger. DTE recently donated an F-150 pickup truck and employees at Warren Service Center prepared it to be shipped to Liberia. “Logistics are difficult over there, and when they see a US non-profit renting a vehicle, the price goes up for that vehicle,” says Anthony. “This truck will be essential for the work we do over there, and we can transport donations efficiently from one village to another and teach the kids efficiency along the way.”
Loving Arms for Liberia was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from SURGED, the energy resource group for young professionals at DTE. “One of Surge’s objectives is to influence leadership by educating, advocating and driving effective policy and cultural change,” says Victoria Fisk, senior engineer, DO, and co-chair of SURGE. “Anthony’s non-profit embodies our mission to provide equal opportunity, education and advocacy to our youth across the globe. We were proud to support such a strong community.”
Anthony’s giving isn’t just focused on Liberia. His problem-solving skills kicked into gear last year when he saw a logistics company coordinating donations to the people of Ukraine. After learning they needed boxes, he went to different service stations around the region to collect and break down boxes for the group. The company was grateful, but Anthony didn’t stop there. He reached out to Michigan Box Company, and they were able to donate 500 boxes to the effort, making the donation process more efficient.
“A trailblazer sets a path for others to follow, a guiding light,” says Anthony. “They leave a mark that can be emulated. I hope this works inspires others here and the children in Liberia.”
Join us in congratulating Anthony for being a Trailblazer this year!