Busta’s Person of the Week: 70s and 80s legendary group is coming to the Triad!

Jo Williams is head of the Triad Food Pantry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in High Point and is the 2019 recipient of the Humanitarian Award.

Busta’s Person of the Week: 70s and 80s legendary group is coming to the Triad!
January 30
10:45 2020

Concert fundraiser is a vision of nonprofit leader

By Busta Brown

I can’t imagine anyone from the 70s and 80s who didn’t sing or dance to the unforgettable chorus, “We are family. I got all my sisters and me.” Every radio station and club was also blaring out “We’re All American Girls” and “He’s The Greatest Dancer.”  

The group I’m referring to is Sister Sledge and they’re coming to the Triad with the legendary Janice Price to ‘party with a purpose.’ But first, let’s talk about that purpose and the Winston-Salem visionary who inspires it.  

“My daughter, who was killed by a hit and run driver in 1982, had a little friend that she was in class with, who didn’t have any food. So, she was giving the little girl her lunch. She would come home hungry every day and I said, ‘Tracey, I pack you a good lunch every day, you shouldn’t be hungry.’ She said, ‘Mommy, I gave my food to my friend. She doesn’t have any food and we got plenty food,’ Jo Williams said. As Williams continued, I sat there as still as a mannequin and I was honored to lend her my ears, because I knew that I was about to hear an absolutely extraordinary, courageous and inspiring testimony. And I did. 

“I told my daughter, ‘From now on, I’ll pack a lunch for you and your friend.’ She was so happy to help her friend. At that point, I was supposed to give back. And when she was killed, after all the things she did to help people, what could a mother do but help feed people? And that’s how it all started,” said Jo Williams. 

For every pain she experienced, she’s turned it into passion and a purpose. Williams’s 41-year-old son Nicholas was brutally murdered in February of 2019. Yet, she continues to press on and walk on in her purpose of helping others.

“In August I’m going to start The Nick Boxes in honor of my son. I’m going to send boxes of food to college students every month, 10 months out of the year,” she said.

Josephine Hairston Williams was born in Winston-Salem, but grew up in Walkertown. She’s a proud majorette and graduate of Carver High School, class of 1965. After graduating, she went on to receive a degree in non-profit management from Duke University. But it didn’t come without hard work and sacrifice. “My father died when I was 15 and mother didn’t have any money, so my husband of 55 years, Henry Clay Williams Jr., worked very hard so he could pay for me to go to college.” But Williams credits her church upbringing and the Mighty Yellowjackets for what she does. “When I graduated from Duke, I never forgot my roots, my church, Oak Grove Baptist Church in Walkertown, and my Yellowjackets. Carver molded me to do what I do today. My brothers and sisters preceeded me. I was a Hairston, so we had to get straight As and be excellent. At Carver, if you were in the top ten graduating class, you knew you had to go to college. It wasn’t easy raising kids, working and going to school. But I have no complaints,” said Williams. 

The Walkertown native put her non-profit management degree to work. She now runs the Triad Food Pantry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in High Point. The Pantry is in high demand and it’s now outgrown their building. Jo Williams’ vision is to bring the Triad together for a very necessary and worthy cause. To raise money to build a bigger building, this Saturday, Feb. 1, Williams is doing a benefit concert featuring the legendary 70s and 80s group, Sister Sledge. 

The Triad Food Pantry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church not only feeds families in High Point, according to Williams, “… but people come to our food pantry from all over, from all three Triad cities and surrounding areas, like Eden, Reidsville, Burlington, Lexington, Thomasville and more. We also have a backpack program, which we partner with United Way, to give away 350 backpacks filled with food every Friday to grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. We have a mobile pantry that takes food to the churches, so they can give out food to their members.” 

Williams continued, “Our wellness program is in partnership with High Point University. There’s a lot of people that don’t have money to go see a doctor, so we make sure we provide them with a free wellness check every month, for high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. 

“And we’re getting ready to expand that when we get into this new building. And every other month we give them free medicine as well. We also have a food pantry at Central High School and getting ready to open one at T. Wingate Andrews in High Point as well,” said the 2019 High Point Humanitarian of the Year.  

When Jo approached the stage to receive the High Point Humanitarian of the Year Award, she road onto the stage in her electric wheelchair with pride. I was truly fascinated and inspired as she spoke about it. She has no regrets. I could feel her glowing smile that could drive out darkness, and her spirit of love that could drive out hate. “I was in six car accidents and had to have six surgeries, so I need an electric wheelchair to get around. I give God all the glory for my strength to do what I do. When people say I’m a phenomenal woman, I tell them God is phenomenal, and it’s through him that I’m able.” 

As we were talking, Williams added, “I don’t want to forget to mention our Senior Citizen Week. We give away heaters, air conditioners during the summer, fresh veggies so that they can eat healthy, and we also provide a free pair of diabetic shoes every year to our senior citizens.” She said that The Triad Food Pantry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in High Point provides more food than any other food pantry in the Triad, so a bigger building would be a true blessing for the thousands of families and senior citizens in need of a hand up. 

If there were an “I’m Every Woman” award, she would definitely be one of my inaugural recipients. 

Come sing along with Sister Sledge to their hits “We are Family,” “All American Girls,” “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” and more. Along with Sister Sledge will be Triad legend Janice Price. 

Let’s help this Winston-Salem born and Walkertown phenomenal woman sell out this much needed benefit concert. 

Let’s come together Triad Strong to support my Busta Brown Person of the Week, Jo Williams. The benefit concert featuring Sister Sledge and Janice Price is this Saturday, Feb, 1, at The Golden Doors Conference and Event Center, 2025 Brentwood St. in High Point, 6 – 11:30 p.m. Get there early to see the opening act, The Red Carpet Dancers. “We have a sponsor in D.C. that puts $200 in their scholarship fund for every performance they have. These kids are fantastic,” said Williams. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, call Jo Williams at 336-869-4428.

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