Claressa Shields launches community project aimed at helping Flint kids

FLINT, Michigan — Claressa Shields’ first official investment into her hometown will be housed by Joy Tabernacle Church. The Claressa Shields Community Project will operate out of a house next door to the North Chevrolet Avenue church and offer services, resources and a safe place for children.

Shields is a longtime local hero, two-time Olympic women’s boxing gold medalist, and the undisputed middleweight women’s boxing champion.

The opening of the Claressa Shields Community Project will be officially announced on May 14 in a ceremony at the house. Additional details about the programing and services being offered at the home will be announced then. The announcement will be a part of a larger Civic Park Centennial Celebration.

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Shields, who has publicly acknowledged she used boxing as an escape from abuse she experienced growing up, said she wants to bring services into the neighborhoods to make it easier for Flint children to get help and for families to receive support when and where they need it.

“There is help,” Shields said after a tour of Joy Tabernacle with Pastor Robert McCathern. “(This is) to be a part of the community, to help youth coming up.”

McCathern said the goal of the house is to help children grow and address their issues so that they can become healthy adults. It is a natural extension of the church’s neighborhood restoration efforts in Civic Park, he said. 

Shields also is a social media powerhouse. She brings to the table 185,000 followers on Instagram and 38,500 followers on Twitter.

“I want to get word out about Joy Tabernacle, about what they are doing in the community,” said Shields, who envisions children’s services as a gateway to also introducing people to other support systems offered through the church.. 

Joy Tabernacle is also home to the Urban Renaissance Center and a wide variety of service and outreach programs.