20-year-old Tianna Fisher celebrates birthday by feeding the homeless
TIANNA Fisher celebrated her 20th birthday on Friday but she is not your ordinary young Jamaican woman.
Young adults her age would do the full glam – lashes, facial, long nails, a fancy hairstyle, maybe a Brazilian wig, a new LBD, new heels, fancy jewellery and all the things that would let her stand out like a contestant in the Miss World beauty contest.
Of course, a fancy restaurant would be on the cards and she and her gal pals laugh the night away wilfully snapping their cameras.
But no. Young Fisher decided to give back on her birthday. And it was not the ordinary giving back. She fed 200 homeless people at the Marie Atkins Night Shelter on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston, bringing joy on her special day.
With the assistance of her mother Denise Burke and a few sponsors, she could hardly contain her joy when the homeless, after enjoying their meals, sang her happy birthday.
“The response of the homeless persons were heart-warming; they were so thankful, well-mannered and jovial, it broke my heart that I couldn’t do much for them but I believe that one day I’ll be able to do more,” Fisher told the Jamaica Observer.
“I chose not to glam up for my birthday because that’s just not my kind of celebration. I’ve never actually thought about [having a special birthday celebration] being that I have been so hyper focused on finding a way to feed the homeless ever since it was my 16th birthday. Helping other people and making them happy is the only gift I really wanted,” she said.
Catering for 200 people, as simple as it sounds, was a huge task for Fisher, as from a household that included her two brothers, who are older and her mom, cooking was just for a small family. So, despite all the efforts to get to the city centre by 1:00 in the afternoon, she and her team were late.
Young Fisher said she apologised to the homeless when she arrived at the centre, but it was “funny they cared more about it being my birthday than getting their food. They began to sing happy birthday to me and all frustration left my body. It was the best moment of the entire day the way they were just so happy and thankful. I even met my ‘birthday twin’. I was overjoyed and thankful to God for it was better than I anticipated, we even started to sing praise songs. I would definitely do this again.”
“This is my first charity activity done by me as one for my 16th birthday didn’t go as planned, but I once participated in an ice cream treat for kiddies in Maxfield [St Andrew],” she said.
She expressed gratitude to her mother who pushed her to realise her dream.
“God has been pushing me to do this with my mother assisting me to make it possible. While I have work or school she would be doing the necessary arrangements that I am so grateful for because without her it would’ve been much harder,” she told the Observer.
She also thanked the Power of Faith Ministries and Senior Pastor Bishop Dr Delford Davis for assisting, by letting the congregation and online members be aware of the project. “The members were overwhelmingly supportive and I can’t think of a way to thank them enough. Thank God for you all.”
Mom Denise Burke was equally as happy to see her daughter realise her dream.
“Tianna’s dream of feeding the homeless on her birthday was realised with the help of many. Very instrumental in the success were family members and close friends, church family at The Power of Faith Ministries Inc, leadership of The Marie Atkins Night Shelter and co-workers. For months, Tianna had a goal of raising $200,000 and feeding 200 persons. With the help of her team and her constant pursuits, she organised cake sales, promotional events at her church and individual canvassing. These goals were surpassed and there are plans already to make this an annual event since more persons showed up than were planned for,” said Burke.
Her daughter, she said, is also considering to visit and gift a few children at the Maxfield Park Children’s home before Christmas.
Said Burke: “Ever since Tianna was six years old she has shown an immense passion for charity, and the love and care of others, especially old people and babies. Sometimes she would share her lunch with others at school or giving them her lunch money and then go without. Tianna’s passion for caring also extends to stray animals. Currently there are two stray cats of the countless she has adopted that currently live at her home. The last of which was taken home with a broken leg, which she bandaged and it is recovering.”
“Tianna encourages others to live their best lives by not just caring about themselves but for others as well because a life is not truly lived unless it is dedicated to giving of yourself,” said the proud mother of her daughter.
Admitting that she grew up sheltered, Fisher said she was always inside watching TV, reading or going out with my immediate family on or for weekends while growing up. “I attended church, however, but I was not an active member neither did I participate in any extra-curricular activities. I was not exposed to the world enough to know that there were activities to get involved in and whenever I was aware, my mom was too protective of me to participate,” she said.
“As I grew older and began high school that’s when I started to involve myself in choirs at school and youth fellowship at church that really helped me to experience a different aspect of life that I fell in love with. I tried netball but due to circumstances beyond my control, I could not continue for too long,” she said.
But why has she grown up to be so caring?
“Why am I so kind is a question that I always ask myself because it’s hard to be kind in such a cold world. I was also raised to see my mother always helping people, so I might’ve inherited it from her. Even when it was hard to be kind, my heart wouldn’t allow me to be otherwise. Also when I started to build my relationship with God, the more I got to know Him is the more I realised that this is who He has ordained for me to be. I’ve always wanted to be an image of Jesus and that motivates me to be the person I am today.”
She also had a word of encouragement to youngsters in her age group.
“Help as many people if you are in the position to, and live to serve people more than we serve ourselves. Help the world to become a more united place.”
Now involved in several youth activities at church, including music, Fisher is currently is a second-year business administration student at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean. She said after completing she wants to pursue veterinary science or law, and both if she can manage. She is a graduate of Bridgeport High and Southborough Primary schools, both in Portmore, St Catherine.
“I’ve always wanted to become a veterinarian due to my passion to care for animals, also to own an animal shelter in Jamaica where I’d take and care for sick or stray animals. My love for law came along when I got my first job in a law firm, I love the dynamic and excitement that comes with it,” she said.
“In the next 10 years I want to see God’s will for my life being fulfilled. Ten years from now I would love to look back and thank God for all the lives that I’ve changed for the better and people I’ve brought to Him because not only do I want to assist in their daily need, I want to assist in their spiritual needs and introduce as many people to how good God really is. This world would be a much better place if people really gave God a chance,” said Fisher when asked to give an outlook of what she expects by 2033.