“I learned the Zen of stuffing envelopes in the 1970s,” says Aissia Richardson, who has been volunteering her time to support Bread & Roses Community Fund since she was a child. Her mother. Linda Richardson, was the first staff member of the People’s Fund, which became Bread & Roses.
Today, Aissia is a member of the boar d of directors. Her full-time work is as the president of the African American United Fund (AAUF). AAUF has in creased educational opportunities, promoted cultural development, stimulated voter education and much more for Philadelphia’ s African American community.
Currently, AAUF is focusing on environmental and food justice. “Environmental justice does not just have to do with placement of hazardous waste and polluting facilities. It also has to do with the distribution of public resources in minority and low- income communities,” says Aissia.
AAUF has helped to start community gardens in North Philadelphia, led healthy cooking courses, pushed for neighborhood supermarket access and brought Black farmers from the Carolinas and Virginia to Philadelphia to sell their goods. “This trend toward environmental and food justice in the African-American community is something that I don’t think everyone is aware of. It ’s a growing movement,” she says.
In addition to her work at Bread & Roses and AAUF, Aissia is the chair of the SEPTA Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC). Aissia has sterred the CAC to the issue of bus shelters that are disproportionately located in Center City. “There should be equitable distribution because whether you are in Center City or North Philly, you still get wet when it’s raining.”
Aissia sees herself as someone who can help connect different constituencies together to lift everyone in the region up. These skills are invaluable to Bread & Roses Community Fund, as together we’re all working to build a movement for real change.