She still has the shoulders. They are the shoulders of a swimmer.
A decade ago, Kassy Alia Ray was on the swimming team at the University of South Carolina, and those shoulders helped power her through the waters of the Southeastern Conference. They helped her stay afloat and rocket from one end of the pool to the other.
As it turns out, they’ve been good for more than competitive swimming. In the last four years, Alia Ray has had unthinkable grief foisted upon those shoulders, pain she he has managed not only to carry, but to internalize and transform into progress she hopes will change a community.
The 32-year-old is the founder of Serve & Connect, a Columbia-based nonprofit organization that works to foster relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“Our mission is to ignite positive change through police and community partnerships,” Alia Ray says during a recent interview at Serve & Connect’s office on Laurel Street. “And it really is that. You can think of us as that igniter, that instigator, that facilitator creative hub that tries to find creative opportunities to bring together police, community organizations and residents working as one.”
Article by Chris Trainor