Black History Month One-On-One: Linda Tarry-Chard

February 1, 2014 6:00 AM

Rev. Linda Tarry-Chard holding dolls from the Project People Foundation

Rev. Linda Tarry-Chard holding dolls from the Project People Foundation

Written & Anchored By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
Produced for 1010 WINS Radio by Sharon Barnes-Waters

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Reverend Linda Tarry-Chard is the Minister for New Membership, Care and Parish Life at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. Her achievements, however, far exceed such a title.

One project she championed in particular has the whole world singing her praises. The Project People Foundation was started in 1996 to help children in the impoverished villages of South Africa.

Larry’s Blog: Reverend Linda Tarry-Chard

At first, the Project People Foundation distributed more than 15,000 brand new black dolls, to kids in rural areas who had never seen anything like themselves in that form. But within a year, the program expanded to become a beacon of encouragement, offering job skills, training and education for both children and adults.

Tarry-Chard says growing up she was surrounded by family members and friends who prioritized volunteerism. “And the wonderful people that I grew up with in the church where I grew up right in Harlem – Refuge Temple Church. I grew up there and so what did I see every day of my life? People who love God and love people and realized to love God, you have to help people.”

The Harlem native says it isn’t just about giving either but she also gets back from which she puts in. “The fact that I’ve been blessed to do a ministry here and be at Riverside Church and for almost 20 years, to do work in South Africa. And that has been fascinating.”

Tarry-Chard says it was her first trip to the Africa that made her realize her calling to do work in Africa. She has since been to the continent 26 times.

More: Photo Gallery Of 2014 Black History Month Honorees

Now, the Project People Foundation has begun to work on a “green” project to bring solar energy to rural areas of South Africa.

Tarry-Chard says she had the honor of speaking with the late Nelson Mandela on his last visit to the United States.

More: Project People Foundation

The former president of South Africa had heard of Project People Foundation and the work the organization had been doing. Tarry-Chard says Mandela thanked her for the work she and her team had been doing.

“That Nelson Mandela would look at me and say ‘thank you’ and he said ‘you don’t have to do that. There’s need here in your own country. But that you would reach out to our children in need, I just want to say thank you.'”