Start with 11 amazing ladies who are full of love.
Introduce them to an innovative corporal with the Charleston Police Department (CPD).
And what do you get? The G-Unit!
Corporal Errol Randle originally met Mary, Karen, Beulah, Mary, Connie, Drema, Anita, Glenna, Roberta, Melissa and Linda (residents of the YWCA Shanklin Center for Senior Enrichment and Empowerment Homes for Women), during an introductory tour of the YWCA-Charleston’s programs and facilities. He quickly recognized that these women had a lot of love to give…and that his city of Charleston, needed a lot of love.
That is when Corporal Randle conceived of the “Grandma Unit” (AKA the G-Unit). The first of its kind in the nation, the G-Unit is an official unit of the CPD charged with going into the community to spread love, hugs, and smiles to the citizens and visitors of Charleston.
Randle spoke with the leadership at the CPD about his idea to create the G-Unit and teamed up with his friends at Best Electric to outfit its members with custom T-shirts and official G-Unit badges.
The ladies were sworn into their official roles as members of the G-Unit on December 21, 2016. They adopted the motto, “Here’s a Hug… Spread the Love!” and since that time, they have been seen:
Sharing smiles and collecting donations for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign
Distributing hugs for Valentine’s Day at the Charleston Town Center
Making a surprise visit to Charleston City Hall to share the love with the city’s public servants.
And, much, much more.
This unique unit caught the attention of local, national, and even international news. CNN-Headline News’ Michaela Pereira featured the G-Unit on her program, recognizing each of the ladies and their special charge. The next day, Corporal Randle received inquiries from police departments throughout the nation inquiring about how to create a similar unit in their home towns. And, by utilizing the technology of Skype, the G-Unit has been able to spread their message of love and joy to people across the globe.
According to Program Director Kyla Nichols, YWCA’s Shanklin Center is an oasis for women who are past victims of elder abuse, domestic violence, and in some cases, persistent homelessness. She said, “What is so unique about the women of the G-Unit is that despite the struggles they have endured, they have formed a true community. They have always been a special group, but through their works as the G-Unit, they have created an even deeper bond. They are thriving in their environment, working to make Charleston a better place, and enjoying the best years of their lives.”
Nichols said, “Our nation has become divided in so many ways. The members of the G-Unit have showed us how to look beyond what divides us and simply connect as human beings. I am so proud of our ladies. They are prime examples that any individual has the capacity to shape their community in a positive way.”
Thanks to the love and joy of the 11 special ladies in the G-Unit, Charleston has become a friendlier city. Its residents are more generous. Its visitors feel greater hospitality. And people across the nation has been inspired to spread the love.
Within the spirit of the G-Unit is a challenge to each of us to be a little more kind, create a little more joy, and share a smile more freely.
And, when you run into one of the amazing ladies of the G-Unit, you will likely be treated to a genuine smile, enveloped in a warm embrace, and hear, “Here’s a Hug… Spread the Love!” So, be honored to share the hug… and be sure to pass it on!
YWCA Charleston is proud to honor the members of The G-Unit along with the other 2019 Women of Achievement honorees on March 1 at Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. To attend or sponsor the event, visit https://www.ywcacharleston.org/woa.