A Powerball Winner Uses Wealth For Charity

Jacob Rebb

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Humble life

Pastor Pearlie Mae Smith was an elderly mother of seven when her daughter Valerie came to her in 2016 telling her that she had seen winning lottery numbers in her dream. A family of thorough faith, Valerie told her mother at the time that these numbers were divine intervention in play, and that they needed to play them because she knew they would win. Having these numbers in hand, that’s what the family did. In a crazy coincidence, these numbers worked, and the family won a Powerball jackpot of $429 million.

The aftermath

This came as a shock to the family of eight. They didn’t believe that they had won, and they were even more surprised when, upon going to claim their winnings, they found out that they were the only winners of the jackpot. Suddenly, the family went from making ends meet to being the winners of the sixth-largest jackpot in history. Valerie commented that she thought old coworkers and people she didn’t even know would come out of the woodwork. The family braced for calls from people they hadn’t spoken to in years.

After winning the jackpot, the family went to work using the money that they believed was a gift from God to their advantage. After paying off expenses the family had accrued, such as student loans, and going on a vacation, they promised to use the money to help other people over themselves. They promised to use this money to help the disenfranchised as well as the church they attended, and they did just that. They wanted to do this in Trenton, New Jersey — which is where they’re from.

What they did and how they did it

To further use the money for good, the family started the Smith Family Foundation, with Pearlie’s daughter Valerie as executive director. The family started the foundation as a means to use their newfound wealth for charitable means. These priorities at the time included education, as well as helping fund development, youth, and family services in Trenton.

In doing so, the family hoped that the wealth they had acquired would also be able to start a foundation to end poverty in the city. They stated that with the foundation, they wanted to change the cycle of poverty and to help figure out how to end it by changing the systems that are put in place that keep people in poverty. They wanted their community to be stronger and more well off. With this newfound wealth, the family also built a new church building for their church, the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America.

Continuing to spread the wealth

They also used this wealth to donate money to more churches in their area, as well as parent advocacy groups and a child development center. The hard foundation of faith that the family had built up over decades became drivers for positive change in the communities that they had lived in. One personal finance advisor said that the actions they took were rare for lottery winners — and their actions have shown that winning the lottery can be a positive vehicle for change, as long as it’s managed well.