Once or twice a year, Western’s Assistant Police Chief Keith Williams travels to the Philippines to give a group of young students there the basic supplies they need for school and life.
This March, Williams traveled to the city of Naga in the Bicol region of the Philippines. The primary purpose of this trip was to supply 169 elementary and middle school students with new shoes.
Williams said that for many of these children, these where the only shoes they had ever had. “To see the excitement and appreciation on the faces of the students and their parents is why I do it,” Williams said.
The school Williams was working with on this trip planned a community event on March 5, Williams’ birthday. The community was so thankful that the celebration included musical performances from school groups and speeches from community members. But most important to Williams was the chance to meet the students who received the shoes.
Williams doesn’t speak Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, but that does nothing to dampen the connection felt during these trips.
“People all laugh the same, smile the same and when they’re happy, you can tell,” Williams said.
This was Williams’s seventh trip to the Philippines since 2013. He said he was originally drawn to the region years ago because of an opportunity to participate in martial arts training, and while he was there he said he saw such extreme poverty in the communities that hosted him that he decided to do what he could to help.
Since then, Williams has been keeping an eye out for anything he can do to help communities in the Philippines, most often by giving supplies to schools and students.
“I think from a spiritual aspect we go where we’re led sometimes, and we find ourselves in different places. When that spirit finds you and propels you to do something, then that’s what you should do,” said Williams.
Williams can recall many great moments from his trips, like the first time he was handing out notebooks, binders and pencils to a group students. While he was doing this he saw two young boys smiling and high-fiving each other so excitedly that he asked a teacher why they were so happy. The teacher answered, “They’re excited because they’ve never had a new pencil before.”
“You could say this has become my own personal mission,” said Williams. “And when these folks see you do something from the goodness of your heart without any kind of expectations, which builds a tremendous bridge and connection.”
If there is one goal Williams has, other than helping people in the Philippines, it is to inspire others within his communities to do what they can to help others. Whether that is students and faculty here at Western or younger members of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.
“People need help everywhere, and I think we need to just take it one trip at a time and do what we can to make it better. At least that is my spin on it,” Williams said.
To learn more about Williams’ philanthropic efforts, and find out what you can do to get involved, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.