This "Black Fairy Godmother" Is Gifting Serious Cash to Women in Need on Social Media
When Simone Gordon suddenly lost her banking job four years ago, the mother of a newborn struggled to keep up with the bills. Her mind raced daily as she tried to balance being a new mom to a son — who would later be diagnosed with nonverbal autism — with searching for employment and navigating the arduous world of social safety-net programs.
She applied for food stamps. She submitted requests for housing grants. She marched directly into nonprofit offices to plead for help, but she felt like she kept hitting a wall.
“I’d be told to go to a website and apply there or that it’s just a little paperwork and a few days of waiting to get help, but I was already helpless and running out of time,” Gordon says.
So she turned to social media. She found private Facebook groups where parents with low incomes such as herself would ask for help from strangers.
The donations came pouring in.
"People Gordon had never met covered medical supplies for her son, as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy costs. They paid her utility bills. They even helped finance her community college tuition to study nursing."
People Gordon had never met covered medical supplies for her son, as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy costs. They paid her utility bills. They even helped finance her community college tuition to study nursing.
“It was like a miracle,” Gordon says.
As she got back on her feet, Gordon wanted to pay it forward. She began creating her own private Facebook groups, primarily made up and aimed at Black women like her and other women of color, as well as those who took care of disabled parents, siblings, spouses and children. She expanded to Instagram to further her reach, collectively helping to give away tens of thousands of dollars across the country.
A fan dubbed her “the Black Fairy Godmother.” The name stuck and a legacy was born.
Today, the effort is still largely based on Facebook but has also grown through Instagram, where Gordon has 43,000 followers. The donations have increased, too, with Gordon now having distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Americans in need.
Her work has only gotten bigger since last year, when the coronavirus pandemic sent millions of Americans into unemployment and fell behind on rent, mortgage, and medical payments.
In a time when state unemployment offices have been overwhelmed and government assistance programs have seen massive backlogs, the Black Fairy Godmother has come to the rescue.
"We’ve helped more than 350 families during the pandemic. We’ve helped over 5,000 families with housing after domestic violence issues. We’ve put people through college.”"
“We’ve raised almost half a million dollars,” Gordon says, proudly listing the accomplishment of the organization she leads that’s grown to have 50 workers assisting behind the scenes. “We’ve helped more than 350 families during the pandemic. We’ve helped over 5,000 families with housing after domestic violence issues. We’ve put people through college.”
Another program that Gordon spearheaded this last year is an Instacart volunteer system where dozens of people have signed up with accounts to cover food and delivery costs for strangers. There's also the Adopt-a-Family effort in which individuals and workplaces can sign up via the Black Fairy Godmother website and social media channels to fulfill Amazon wish lists for families, whether they are local or hundreds of miles away.
Gordon, who lives in Bloomfield, New Jersey, outlined the three needs she sees coming in the most these days: help paying rent, utility bills, and food costs.
Data backs that up. Around 11.5 million Americans are behind on rent and even more are in need when utility bills are added to the mix, according to recent studies. Research has shown that up to 42 million Americans, about a quarter of them kids, could face food insecurity because of the pandemic. Data indicates that the burdens tend to hit racial minorities the most.
“You never know what someone is going through or how they need help or even how much of it they need. You can’t judge a book or person by its cover,” Gordon says. “People can seem fine on the outside but be struggling on the inside. That’s why it needs to be OK to ask for help and why you should give help if you are able.”
After her expected graduation next spring, Gordon aims to work in public health.
She also has big dreams for the next chapter of her charity: launching transitional housing — in New Jersey, Louisiana, and California — to help those who are struggling with finances, trauma, and mental health.
“There is life after struggle and trauma,” Gordon says, repeating a motivating phrase she told herself four years ago and one that she often repeats to others. “There is life after pain and people who will be there to bring you through it.”