When Harrine Freeman started Look Up, Lift Up (LULU), she envisioned an organization that would serve as a resource hub for those who face barriers and needed a lifeline in order to sustain, especially in the middle of a public health crisis. From working multiple jobs for little money to experiencing job loss, Harrine knows first-hand what it’s like to be impacted by financial constraints. She knows what it is like to consider bankruptcy as an option for financial relief. She is also familiar with resiliency and it is her passion and empathy for others experiencing social and economic challenges that prompted her to launch LULU in 2020.
In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the DC Metropolitan Area shifted into quarantine mode. Immediately, Harrine decided to organize her volunteer efforts into a non-profit. At the height of the public health crisis, LULU provided PPE protection kits to the homeless population in Washington, DC. Additionally, as students in the DC area shifted to virtual learning, LULU provided laptops to two local DC area schools as a way to support students who lack resources and access to digital learning.
Harrine’s spirt of giving and volunteer service was instilled in her as a child as she and her family often lived in survival mode. Despite difficult financial situations, Harrine always found a way to do for others, including her own family. At 15 years old, she found herself paying rent and often times becoming financially responsible for herself. Not eligible for public assistance, Harrine had to figure out where to shop for essential items – including school supplies, toiletries and clothes - and how to comparison shop to stay on budget.
As an adult, she experienced challenges due to job losses, including nearly losing her home to foreclosure. Unemployed for four years, Harrine obtained public assistance in order to receive food benefits and Medicaid. She juggled delinquent bills and sold used CDs to generate some income. Through her job searching, she landed online freelance jobs, which provided enough money for Harrine to cover a majority of her bills.
Armed with a degree in computer science, she made it a priority to obtain the needed certifications in the IT industry. Keeping her skills and credentials up to date proved to be valuable as she regained full-time employment. She has served in many roles within the non-profit field; including, vice president and secretary, Toastmaster; board chair and assistant board chair, Prince Georges County Interagency Technology Committee, and finance committee chair, The Essential Theatre.
As LULU continues to expand under Harrine’s leadership, the organization looks to make a greater impact by providing workforce training and its ongoing support of those who are most vulnerable to systemic barriers. Harrine has made it LULU’s mission to promote economic equality and a fair and inclusive world for low-income youth and adults.
“I know what it feels like to feel like giving up and feeling like there is no way out. There’s always a way out as long as you don’t give up.”