RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Shaka and Maya Smart were involved with nonprofits and organizations that helped improve the Richmond community and reach out to those in need. Those who worked with both of them throughout the years say their move to Texas is bittersweet.
“Really sad to see Maya goes because she’s such a big part of the community, but any community that gets Maya and the Smarts is lucky. So we just wish them well,” said Katharine Herndon, the Executive Director of James River Writers.
For years, Maya served on the board of James River Writers, a nonprofit that supports writers in Central Virginia.
“During her involvement she helped us with our mission, she helped with strategic planning, she was very instrumental in one of our big fundraisers,” said Herndon.
Herndon says they were lucky to have a passionate leader.
“We’re going to miss her support in the community, and her support of all things literary in Richmond. She just made it such a wonderful a wonderful community for the literary arts. I think she gave back in so many ways, there’s just going to be a hole,” she said.
Shaka was one of the founding members of the Ujima Legacy Fund, a giving circle for African American men that partners with the Community Foundation.
“It was really instrumental to have someone like Shaka in the beginning,” said Reggie Gordon, the founder the Ujima Legacy Fund.
Gordon says Shaka’s involvement helped the group grow exponentially.
“Probably guys who hadn’t really thought about philanthropy. We’re hoping they said, ‘well if Shaka is doing it, I’m doing it too.'”
He says the Shaka left an impact not only on the court, but on the city as well.
“I think he made us realize that the world is watching us and we can have a certain tone that celebrates success and teamwork and camaraderie. That transcended athletics, hopefully that’s an air that he’ll leave in his wake,” said Gordon.
The Smarts were also involved with the YWCA and Friends Association of Children.