Twenty-nine-year-old LeShai Campbell found a lot of things when she came to Statesboro. She found a great place to obtain her education. During her time at Georgia Southern University, she earned her bachelor’s degree then went on to earn a Masters of Accountancy and her MBA. She even, she says with a laugh, earned her “Mrs.” degree when she met and married her husband, Philip.
But she has also found purpose. And the Boro is all the better for it.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Campbell came to Georgia in her teens, and graduated high school in Paulding County. She says her dream was to attend the University of Southern California, but she was awarded a HOPE scholarship, and “You gotta do what you can afford.” She chose Georgia Southern.
Campbell and her husband Philip, who is a teacher at Statesboro STEAM Academy, bonded while volunteering as GSU students. The couple volunteered with the American Cancer Society, and at a local church doing, among many things, tutoring for local children.
“Once we decided, hey let’s get married and settle in Statesboro, it was well, what can we give back to Statesboro? How can we make Statesboro better?” she said.
Campbell is now a full-time budget analyst at GSU, and teaches part-time as an accounting instructor at Ogeechee Tech. She’s also started her own business, LoSeEd Financial and Business Solutions.
To fulfill their desire to make the Boro better, the Campbells founded Restoring the Breach, a local faith-based nonprofit, in March 2017. The couple felt spiritually led to create the organization, which is focused on community engagement and spiritual empowerment. It is, according to their website, “committed to bestowing unconditional love through righteous acts.” These are designed to help local residents gain the necessary tools to live better lives and build up the community. The programming is all about spiritual, physical, emotional, social and financial health for residents of all ages and college students alike.
During its first few months of existence, Restoring the Breach members assisted with setting up Open Hearts Community Mission, running a summer camp called Camp ULTRA, and partnered with the Statesboro library to provide tutoring services for local children.
During the summer camp, RTB volunteers hosted 45 local children at Gracewood Baptist Church (now Southbridge). Bulloch County Schools provided lunches, and donations provided supplies and snacks for the children as well. Teachers on summer vacation also volunteered, along with members of the church, and together they worked with the children on English, math, science and art skills, and offered them physical education as well.
Since that first year, RTB has also provided a health fair, back to school drives, school supply distribution and literacy events. On the campus of Georgia Southern, they have provided monthly workshops for students on budgeting, mental health and career preparedness. And they continue to work with Open Hearts, providing weekly devotionals for the residents there.
Campbell says they have also partnered with the Main Street Farmers Market, working with local residents who receive assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Working with the Georgia Fresh for Less program, they have been able to match what people purchase through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) at the farmers market and get up to $50 in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Each year in November, RTB hosts a Sharing the Harvest event, during which they feed families based on identification from Bulloch County Schools — to feed those who are homeless or between households. They have also done community baby showers. The one held in April of this year served more than 60 mothers.
Campbell remembers one mother in particular, who had four children already and was pregnant with twins. That mom, she said, was the lucky winner of a special prize package: a day at Serenity Day Spa. The mom cried.
“She was like, ‘I don’t even feel seen, and it can be really hard. I can’t believe this is happening to me,’” Campbell recalled.
RTB’s tutoring program, called Me First Tutoring, has helped equip third, fifth and eighth grade students who were struggling with math and English be more prepared not only for testing, but to help them do well in all subjects.
“If you can hone in on math and English, you can really hone in on all those other subjects,” Campbell said. “If you can do math, you can get science. If you can get English, you can get social studies. You can bring them all together.”
Everything RTB offers is free, and it’s all been made possible by private and corporate donations, as well as dues by members. There are no grant funds, Campbell says; all the money comes from Statesboro.
RTB does host an annual banquet, she adds, and says they accept donations all year long.
Joining the Campbells at Restoring the Breach are board members Franklin Collins, Wesley Woods, Christy Brown, Brian Brown, Brittainee Collins and Jeniffer Johnston. There is also a collegiate board, and Campbell says there are a total of about 40 members in the nonprofit, and they are hoping to grow that number.
In the coming years, Campbell says she would love to see RTB become a model for other small college towns to help them learn how to do what Restoring the Breach does. She would also like for RTB to partner with Ogeechee Tech and East Georgia State College, and maybe expand to the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern.
Campbell is hoping that if local residents, whatever their ages, can learn in the areas of career, financial, wellness, literacy, and see the value of giving back, she’s hopeful that people will become interconnected and that the “breach will be restored.”
“It’s just been a wild and crazy, but just wonderful ride,” Campbell says with a smile. “To see the people that I’ve come in contact with, to see the growth, to see the blessing, to see the difference, to see the weight that’s lifted off of them, it gives me a peace. It’s a joy for me. It’s a fulfillment for me to know that they were helped. To know that they were seen, that they were cared about, they were loved.”
For more information on Restoring the Breach Inc., go online at www.restoringthebreach.org.