Kells Barnett is a Harlem native and the founder of Take Care of Harlem, a charity organization focused on improving the lives of Black families in Harlem, New York, through the arts, music, and entrepreneurship.Through his charity, they’ve been able to foster collective community-service endeavors promoting prosperity within these communities. “Whatever we can do to help families, that’s why we’re here.”
Take Care of Harlem was founded in 2013. Kells Barnett was inclined to highlight what he and other organizations were doing to transform Harlem for the better. His charity serves the community in a variety of ways by supplying toys, clothes, and food to families who need them the most. The group consists of many local community residents who are personally dedicating their time and resources to help alleviate an ongoing crisis in New York City. “We’re filling a void where it needs to be filled. For those parents living below their means, we do anything to help them feel good,” said Barnett, standing in front of P.S. 149 on West 117th Street.
Barnett’s organization’s work can be seen throughout Harlem. During the spring, their Green Initiative is aimed at cleaning the streets of Harlem from West 116th to West 125th Streets. They also replace old plants with new ones, to revive the ambience of these streets. This past winter, despite COVID-19 measures, they had their Annual Toy Drive, in which they hand toys to families who can’t afford them during the holiday season. “If you need toys, supplies, or help, all you have to do is contact Take Care of Harlem, and we make it happen.”
Shown above is a noteworthy project between Take Care of Harlem and Bronx painter Andre Trenier, in which a mural honoring Black heroes was painted on the Sojourner Truth School at West 118th Street and Lenox Avenue. The once-barren wall has now been transformed into a place of inspiration and rich history. “We want to teach people, to connect their past with their future,” said Trenier.
Take Care of Harlem has fed nearly 5,192 community members, distributed 2,073 toys, provided nearly 2,000 kids with supplies, and has planted hundreds of flower bulbs throughout the city streets. He plans on donating more supplies this year, despite the pandemic. Barnett’s message is to help those in need. No matter how small your impact is, you are making a difference in your community. “Do your part. If everyone does just a little, it will make a big difference.”