Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year is looking to do even bigger things in 2019

The Rev. Shaquila Mathews, better known as “Pastor Shaq,” was celebrated as Hamilton’s 2018 Citizen of the Year on Friday and said she plans to keep increasing the work she does.

Mathews launched the Pastor Shaq Job/Mentoring Youth Program at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, a summer program that builds personal development in youth.

Among other accomplishments, the pastor of the Truth & Life Community Church also founded HYPE, Hamilton Young People Empowered, a non-profit organization that helps young people through mentoring, after-school programming and open gyms.

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Mathews told an audience at the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s 109th Annual Meeting and Dinner at Hamilton’s Courtyard by Marriott she feels she hasn’t scratched the surface and wants to make more of an impact. She received standing ovations before and after her acceptance speech.

Mathews was asked afterward what the additional impact might involve.

“Definitely working with more youth and just taking it to the next level of more mentorship, more one-on-one, more getting into the heart, and getting to the core of the issue, working through the family and the home,” she said. “And just wrapping our arms around the whole family.”

She said she hopes to do that by working with more volunteers who have heart and passion to lead children and help them do better. Families need more help, and parents need more skills, she said.

“If the whole family’s healthy, it’s only going to be a better environment for the kids when they leave the mentorship program with us, and they go home to a healthy, safe, clean environment.”

That will take more people and money, she said.

People interested in helping or contributing can contact her at 513-899-6181 or at pastorshaq@gmail.com. She is married to Brandon Mathews, and they have sons David Mathews, 15, and Davan Mathews, 11.

She thanked a number of family who attended but lamented that her oldest brother couldn’t be there. Calvin “CJ” Simmons Jr., was shot to death in Lindenwald on Sept. 16, 2016, a reason she became involved with the Cincinnati non-profit called Street Rescue, which buys “community guns” that gangs and others hide away in public places for later use.

She said her brother’s death inspired her Street Rescue work to help ensure “that the kids that we mentor, that they are able to live, work and play, and live in a safe neighborhood, no matter what your address is, no matter what side of the river you live on, the tracks.”

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