You can’t help but be struck by a feeling of awe when you are in the presence of Sylvia Allen, founder of Allen Consulting and Sylvia’s Children. Lauded as an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, author and philanthropist, Sylvia changes and improves lives on a global scale.
After running a successful business in public relations for 34 years, Sylvia is not one to sit back and rest on her laurels. Just as she was at the pinnacle of her career in 2003, the next, and most rewarding chapter of her life, was being written. Her belief “where there’s a will, there’s a way” was fostered as a child after she asked her mother if she could have a cashmere sweater.
She was told she had to work for it and buy it for herself. At 12 years old, she started selling greeting cards door-to-door. Not only did she earn $1,000-$1,500 in the summers from 1949-1954 (no small feat), but hearing the word “no” served as the impetus for her invaluable sales training. This proved to be the best thing that could have happened to her, and to hundreds of children living thousands of miles away in Africa.
Though Sylvia’s successful career spanned from being a television producer to working with fortune 500 companies to being an adjunct professor at NYU, her greatest source of satisfaction up until this time had been through the work of her internationally recognized marketing and public relations firms.
Allen Consulting, Inc. has garnered much acclaim by revitalizing many New Jersey communities hard hit by the economic downturn. However, her life’s mission wasn’t complete. In 2003, on a volunteer trip to sub-Saharan Africa with World Vision, she had a life-changing experience. On the last day of her trip to Uganda, she was awarded the highest honor in the culture. She was asked to be the grandmother to the village of Mbiriizi, a village where hundreds of children were left orphaned by the Aids pandemic plaguing their community.
Sylvia was struck by the abject poverty, but even more so by the kindness exhibited by the people. Overwhelmed with the feeling that she was there for a reason, she felt compelled to raise awareness and funds to better the lives of those children. Sylvia’s Children, a non-profit organization, was born of this desire. Since its inception, Sylvia’s Children has raised over $600K for the Mbiriizi school that educates 1,020 children, 250 of them orphans.
Four double-classroom blocks have been built, the teaching staff has almost been tripled, full-time nurse was hired and doctors were brought to the school which have treated ailments and saved lives. The addition of a fresh well, dormitories and housing for the students and staff, a library, books and computers have all made living conditions much more favorable.
By planting corn on seven acres and beginning a teaching-sewing business, Sylvia hopes to enable these young people to become financially self-sufficient in the future. It takes a village to make a change and, because of Sylvia Allen, the whole village is changing! In case you were wondering, Sylvia did get that cashmere sweater.
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