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Kemi is all smiles. She is so happy, in fact, that her four children question her on it. “They say, ‘Why are you always smiling?’ and I say, ‘What? You want me to cry?”

Kemi is so full of joy that partway through her interview she bursts into song. “I just love singing!”

“People always say, ‘You always smile,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, ‘cause I don’t have anything to make me sad, and if I have something [to make me sad], I just have to come out of it… just make your life shine!”

Kemi’s life, as she tells it, is something to smile about. She and her husband of 21 years are both employed full-time—her as a respiratory therapist and him as a registered nurse at a VA hospital. “Our dream job!”

They have four children, ages 15, 13, and 11 who love playing basketball and volleyball with their mom. And every second Saturday, Kemi volunteers as a site leader for a food pantry in the Central Texas Food Bank service area.

“I love to give back because ten years ago, I was in this situation. I had to be on food stamps, and my husband just lost his job. I just had the twins, and then we just [were] going through crisis.”

“When you have four kids and no job, it is a crisis, big crisis already. So we just didn’t have no option but to be on food stamps. And then—after we got back to our feet… then we are ready to get back to the community.”

Kemi cares deeply about her community and serving the people around her. She has a strong sense of commitment and dedication to her home. “The people around me are my family and this is my home.”

This attitude is at times confusing to people Kemi interacts with because Kemi, who is now a US citizen, was born in Nigeria. “I’m from Africa, and in America a lot of Americans, they go to another country and give… and so people always ask me aren’t you supposed to be doing this in Africa? And I say, 'Let’s just start with our home first. Then we can think about Africa.' But right now, we need to start blessing our people back.”

“Because when you look at the world right now, even on the TV—the news—there’s all kinds there was a shooting over in Maryland. People are going through [it] alone. You don’t know what people are going through. You meet them, but before you get closer, just let your life shine today. Be positive and happy around people. Be helpful. Put your smiling face on and wear it like a cloak!”

“So that is my favorite part, to be able to help and give back to the community—I am at least put[ting] a smile on somebody’s face.”