Andrea Six

Union Mission Volunteer

Dr. Bertice Berry has a way with laughter. She says it’s “such a gift” and has the ability to turn a stark situation around.

“I have the power to change someone else’s life,” she said, encouraging the audience on Thursday, April 20 during Union Mission’s second annual Raising Hope fundraising dinner at the Hyatt Regency. “What we don’t tap into is how that difference can charge us to keep going.”

Raising Hope 2017

Photograph by John McKinnon

The sixth of seven children, Berry grew up poor in Wilmington, Delaware. After she was told that she “not college material,” Berry was gifted with the support of another instructor who believed she was destined for more. Because this one person encouraged and helped her apply to schools, she not only went to college, but graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University in Florida and went on too obtain a masters degree in two semesters, later earning Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University.

And it all started with one person believing in her, encouraging her and helping her take one step forward. This did not just enable her, but allowed her to help others and give them hope.

“When you set a person free, you set an entire village free,” she told the audience. “Just because you’re not there to see, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

In her speech, Berry told of her mother’s alcoholism when she was a child and explained how the cycle does not have to continue—you can be the one to stop it. Her mother told her this before she passed away—that she was taking all the baggage with her and that her daughter could live a life free of those chains. T

he crowd sat in awe, laughing right along with Berry as she told of the incredible individuals who helped her and those who annoyed the heck out of her along the way.

Dr. Bertice Berry speaking at Raising Hope 2017

Photograph by John McKinnon

Today, Dr. Berry lives with her five adopted children in Savannah, where she is active in supporting organizations benefitting those in need. While she has graciously donated the royalties from the sales of her books to organizations that help families in transition, raised funds for scholarships and helped provide resource information to low-income families, she encourages others to get involved in whatever way they can.

“We all possess the power to make some else’s day better. It doesn’t take much,” Berry said. “Sometimes we have to remind ourselves: I have the power to change someone else’s life.”