Sherrell Byrd knows how it feels when medical debt grabs a hold of your life. She recalls her stack of medical bills — next to the usual monthly bills — and how the phone would ring only for it to be another collection call.

“I can very much remember the angst that I felt around that time of having bills that I literally could not pay,” Sherrell said.

Sherrell was determined to use her experience to help others. People shouldn’t have to worry about cost when they are facing a medical need or crisis, she thought. They should be focused on care.

Sherrell, whose career was in event planning, fundraising, and non-profit management, used her skills to co-launch a non-profit. She wanted to help people facing medical debt and other challenges in her community in Albany, Georgia and its surrounding communities.

After all, Sherrell believed, more leaders should care about what people are going through. “I really want people to know that you have power,” Sherrell said. “That hospital is your hospital.”

Today, as executive director of SOWEGA Rising, Sherrell’s vision and mission have continued to grow. The non-partisan non-profit builds community power in southwest Georgia through rural revitalization, community organizing, education, coalition-building, voter engagement, and advocacy for human and civil rights and social justice.

“Change doesn’t move fast enough. It doesn’t move at the speed of people’s lives. And it could,” Sherrell said.

Community Catalyst is proud to partner with SOWEGA Rising on the journey to health justice.