With her cheerful charisma and a background that includes working with children in both Washington, D.C. and Vietnam, Justice Alford appears to be the ideal individual to supervise the children in Pullman Point Apartments’ After-School Program that’s run by For Richmond.
“I love all their personalities, and each kid brings something different to the program,” she says of her work with the children at Pullman Point, who generally range in age from about six to 13. “I’m laughing about half the time I’m there!”
A typical afternoon during the school year kicks off with Alford helping the kids with their homework for an hour or so before delving into all sorts of activities—which can run the gamut from science fun like making ‘slime’ to various outdoor activities. And come the summertime program, which begins this week, she will frequently work with the nearby Richmond Police Athletic League (RPAL ) to keep the kids occupied with various day-long offerings.
Originally hailing from Vallejo, Alford is a longtime Richmond resident who gained her prep education at the city’s Leadership High School before earning a bachelor’s degree from the esteemed Howard University in Washington, D.C. –where she majored in Political Science with a minor in Arabic. At both learning institutions she was given unique opportunities to work with children, experiences she clearly savored.
As part of the cutting-edge programming at Leadership High School, Alford was given the chance to travel virtually anywhere in the world for a summer program; she chose Vietnam, where she worked with children with disabilities aged up to about 13 years at the Thuy An Center. Later, at Howard University, she tutored five- and six-year-olds in Arabic.
“It definitely put me out of my comfort zone,” Alford says of her invaluable experience in Vietnam, “and really made me see things differently. Especially in terms of children.”
Her father, who sadly passed away not long ago, once told her she would end up working with kids. And she credits her mother—a longtime employee of U.S. Representative George Miller—with her decision to study politics at Howard. “She definitely spurred me into politics!” Alford remarks.
Still in close touch with her two older sisters, one in a medical program in Texas and the other working at City Hall in Vallejo, Alford also relishes any chance she gets to be out in the fresh air.
“I love hiking, trekking, anything that involves being outdoors,” she laughs.”I’m always dragging my friends out for a walk!”
But it’s hard to imagine that she delights in anything as much as spending time with the youth at Pullman Point, a topic that visibly lifts her spirits.
“I really enjoy working with those kids,” she enthuses. “They’re really awesome, and I don’t know that everyone always understands that.”
Twelve Questions—Justice Alford
- Favorite book: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- Favorite eatery in Richmond: La Flor de Jalisco food truck
- Person who has inspired you the most in life: My grandfather
- Favorite celebrity: Oprah
- Favorite animal: Cats (has two: Elilah and Marley)
- Favorite place to visit: Tomales Bay
- Pet Peeve: When people grind their teeth!
- Favorite musician/group: Outkast
- Favorite Movie: Cabin in the Sky (1943)
- Favorite quote/expression: “Keep moving forward.”
- Favorite food: Baked macaroni and cheese
- Favorite thing about Richmond: Definitely the people