Meet Donna Atmore-Dolly, Leader, Boss and Executive Director of The Allen Community Non-Profit Programs. Created by her Pastors Dr. Floyd and Elaine Flake; The Allen Community Non-Profit Programs are a combination of 3 different programs; The Allen Community Senior Citizens Center, organized to serve the elderly in the community by meeting their nutritional, recreational and educational needs, The Allen Women’s Resource Center (AWRC), designed as a source for providing shelter to women and children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence and The Allen Neighborhood Preservation and Development Corp. (Allen NPD) Program which focuses  on the preservation, revitalization and restoration of historically underserved and underutilized communities in Southeast Queens. All three programs are celebrating over 30 plus years of service to the community. On November 7th, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York held it’s Allen Non-Profit Programs Gala celebrating honorees Simone Smith, I. Daneek Miller, Barbara Kestenbaum and Michael Sturman for their philanthropy and humanitarian efforts. Sheen Magazine had the pleasure to catch up with Executive Director, Donna Atmore-Dolly to discuss what keeps her inspired to lead The Allen Community Non-Profit Programs, challenges she’s faced and what we can expect from her in the future.

photo by Kevin Milton

photo by Kevin Milton

photo by Kevin Milton

(pictured L-R, Evette C Ennis and Nadine Morency) photo by Kevin Milton

“In my role and involvement on the Board of Directors this platform has allowed me to utilize the gifts God has given me to benefit others. The gala was a huge success and I am glad to know that we are changing lives, strengthening communities and growing our vision for the future. We all have to be better versions of ourselves and pay it forward to be a continued blessing to others.”

 – Evette C Ennis.

(pictured L-R Evette C Ennis and Nadine Morency) photo by Kevin Milton

photo by Megan Greene

What keeps you inspired in continue to be a leader for the Allen Community Non-Profit Programs?

Personally, I have always believed it is important to give back to your community.  Through my church; The Greater Allen Cathedral of NY and my sorority; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., I have consistently worked on projects and volunteered in activities that benefited my community. I retired from a 30-year banking career at Bank of America in 2014. So when my predecessor decided to relocate I was more than happy to step out of retirement to take on the role of Executive Director of the Allen Community Non-Profit Programs. It is an all-consuming role but very fulfilling to know that I am making a difference in the lives of the people in my community.  And even as important, I am helping to maintain the legacy started by my Pastors; The Reverends Dr. Floyd and Elaine Flake by keeping the programs alive and thriving.

If any, what challenges would you say you have faced since being the Executive Director for The Allen Community Non-Profit Program?

When I first assumed the role of Executive Director there were many challenges.  Staffing, budgeting, policies & procedures. There were staffing issues (not enough and not always the right people in the right roles). It’s always tough to have to make staffing changes but when you have the right people in the job the programs can excel.  We also had issues managing the finances of each program.  We survive on grants so it is critical that we meet the grant requirements and budget allotments. As a finance person, it was easy to take on that challenge and put strong processes in place.  Also, implementing policies and procedures ensured everyone was on the same page and understood the goal of the programs.  I’m proud to say we are running very efficiently and are exceeding all our goals. 

In what way would you like the program to continue to improve for the future?

  • For our Domestic Violence Shelter, I would love to be able to obtain a 2nd location or at least a larger space. Unfortunately, there is never enough space to meet the needs of these women and their children. 
  • For the Senior Center, I would like to expand the activities we offer.  We want to bring in Consultants to teach more out of the box things like pottery, photography, piano lessons, etc.
  • For our neighborhood program, we want to expand our work to focus on finding or creating more affordable housing in southeast queens and strengthen our Merchants Association.

After working for Bank Of America for so many years, you mentioned that being the Executive Director for The Allen Community Non-Profit Program now allows you to do something you truly enjoy. What words of encouragement would you give someone who wants to start a nonprofit as well?

That’s true, working for Bank of America was a wonderful experience.  I had the opportunity to travel to many places; received training that was second to none; and made great connections with people from all walks of life.  Working for a non-profit is a bit of a culture shock when you come from Corporate America.  But working in a field that you are passionate about; doing something that matters and enhances the lives of others; there is no better feeling.  It’s hard work and there will be many setbacks, but if God placed it on your heart then He will see you through.  Don’t give up; keep moving forward.  I always knew I would be doing something more important than working in the bank making rich companies richer.  Now, I’m working to make my community better.  And all the hard work is worth it when you see the impact your work has on others.  So keep moving forward. 

What can our readers expect from Executive Donna Atmore-Dolly in the future?

For now, I will continue to make the existing programs the best they can be.  My short term goal is to continue to market the programs and host several fundraising activities.  The unfortunate thing about non-profits is that you never get enough grant money to run a program at even a basic level.  You don’t have enough money to hire all the people you need in order to provide the resources needed. For instance, our Domestic Violence Shelter is operating in the red.  We don’t get enough money to pay for all our expenses. But we can’t afford to reduce our staff or services much more.  So fundraising is my highest priority. One other thing we are looking to do is start another program. We are researching the possibility of starting a Youth Program. Something that will offer opportunities for the youth in our community to explore their interests and help them expand their world.  We hope to get this started in the near future.

photo by Kevin Milton

Sheen Magazine also had the pleasure to speak with Honoree Simone Smith and Councilman Daneek. Continue reading to check out in this Sheen Exclusive below what the honorees had to say!

Meet Cancer Survivor, Jewelry Designer and Allen Non-Profit Program Honoree Simone Smith

photo by Kevin Milton

photo by Kevin Milton

Being a Queens native and being honored by a non-profit that’s doing so much for the Queen’s community, what does this honor personally mean to you?

Just growing up in Queens, being raised by two God-fearing Grandparents and being from the hood to now being able to live out your dreams and create a jewelry line that women love and that is successful is a dream come true.  Being able to come from the hood to be a successful entrepreneur, is all about the mindset that you have to possess, as well as surrounding yourself with people that share the same passion as you. So tonight to be honored and recognized by the church that I grew up in, means so much to me. My Grandpa was baptized at Allen in 1917, not 1970 but 1917, so Allen has been in my family my entire life. So, this honor means so much to me because I’m a Queen from Queens! 

Meet District 27 NYC Councilman and Allen Non-Profit Program Honoree I. Daneek Miller

As New York City Councilman and being an Allen Non-profit honoree how does this platform and it’s mission not only inspire you but motivate you to elevate its mission?

What’s exciting about this partnership is often times people in a particular circumstance or within the community will solely depend on the government for change but this program teaches the community to become your own facilitator. Knowing and understanding the needs to cultivate the community is one thing; but the opportunity to grow with the community is an honor and that is what keeps me inspired. Sometimes people want to help and do the right thing but they don’t know how to or lack the proper resources; so I want to continue to help individuals develop, gain the knowledge and resources to serve their community. I want to lead by example thus being an inspiration for others to manifest their goal and desire to serve. 

Everybody has passion but that passion has to be met with skillset. 

~ I. Daneek Miller

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Featured Image provided by Donna Atmore-Dolly