Conversations with Liz Gold

"This has been such a pouring out of people making a difference that it just makes my heart sing. Anybody can do anything." - a conversation with MJ Richardson

Episode Summary

Meet MJ Richardson. She lives in Senior Housing in downtown San Francisco and is currently feeding her homeless neighbors by making masks in a bag. What's a Mask in a Bag? We all have to wear masks these days and these masks are stylish, functional, entrepreneurial and serving community. Tune in to hear MJ talk about how the idea came, her decade-long career at IBM in sales and why she does what she does.

Episode Notes

"I've been in senior housing, right downtown San Francisco for two years. It took me seven years to get in senior housing. But the location is fabulous."

"Because I live in downtown San Francisco, we've forgotten about our neighbors. Once I got this housing downtown, I realized going out the door, I'd see all these mass of people. Hungry, just hungry. And I said, 'I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I can make a lunch.'"

"Mask in a Bag is a mask with a purpose, OK. First, it protects you and me but more importantly, it feeds the homeless population, which I call my neighbors in the Bay Area. It also creates business because these are all seniors that are owning their own business and creating jobs."

"Two years later we have fed over a 1,000 people. I only live in 400 square feet so my masks have taken over my apartment. But I love it."

"Because I was so blessed, I honestly knew that I needed to do something. Mask in a Bag is the first product. What people see in the product is that first it's well made, secondly it supports our area but also they like the ethnicity of the cloth."

"This has been such a pouring out of people making a difference that it just makes my heart sing. Anybody can do anything."

"How do we reach out to our community because I'm about community, that's one thing you'll see in all of this - to empower other people in their communities."

On her time at IBM: 

"You know the ATM machine we see on every corner now? That was just being introduced in the data center so I was showing people how great it was going to be to get money out of the ATM. Do you think I believed it? I had no idea."

"The training they gave me before I even met a customer. I couldn't go talk to a customer for a whole year until I knew all the equipment. The training from 72-82 in my career at IBM is why I know that I'm the best at the best and was trained by the best company in the world. I'm so grateful for that."

"I always wanted to open my own clothing store, so I opened a clothing store for $50 in downtown Oakland."

"I thrive off of giving to the community. I still want to make enough and have what I need to be OK - which I'm at a whole different age. 76 years old. I'm not trying to do all that anymore. Been there done that, got a t-shirt - done. How can I make it peaceful, make a difference, enjoy my life."

"Find a need and fill it. That is all, we all do. And the need was for me to reach inside myself and say what can I do at this age to make a difference for myself and others."

"The people on the street that I walk by every day, they are the forgotten ones, that have just been thrown away like the trash like they throw on the street. And to reach out to someone and say, 'I care about you, I see you and I acknowledge you and would you like something to eat?' It doesn't get any better than that. So I will always continue to feed the homeless."

"This has humbled me. This has changed me. That is why you do it. You don't do it for them. You do it for you."

"I want every artist that I know to make a million dollars so that they can do what they want to do."

"I'm not worried about what I'm going to do because I'm going to do whatever spirit tells me I'm going to do. It's not about my idea."

"My goal for Born Brown based on their vision and what they're doing is to be as big as Amazon in five years. From my lips to God's ears. Let's do it."

MJ's bio

Marijewel “MJ” Richardson is an accomplished career woman and entrepreneur. As a lifelong learner, she entered Felton Institute’s Senior Community Services Employment (SCEP) Program where she has flourished. She has helped people like herself find their inner strength, confidence and skills. She has helped to put them on a course for employment through her work at SCEP. Her education in merchandising and her past work along with her passion for helping others find self worth and hope led her to organize successful events, mini makeovers at Sephora and a clothes closet and fashion show, which transformed seniors from the inside out. In addition, MJ developed a hygiene kit for homeless people. Now she is creating a “Mask in a Bag” for her homeless neighbors in San Francisco. 

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