Personality: Lynda Sharp Anderson

Spotlight on the president and CEO of The DBALSA Foundation

8/18/2022, 6 p.m.
Three decades ago, when Lynda Sharp went to a magazine marketing event with friends, she didn’t know the young man ...

Three decades ago, when Lynda Sharp went to a magazine marketing event with friends, she didn’t know the young man named Dolson Barnett Anderson Jr. who was there with friends of his own. They both volunteered to help the magazine, became better acquainted and later became a married couple.

The rest, Mrs. Anderson said, is history.

“But that’s not the way Dolson would tell that story,” Mrs. Anderson chuckled. “He always liked to say I was there with two other men until he swept me off my feet.”

The couple spent nearly three decades together, often talking about a plan to create something together that would allow them to give back to others. Unfortunately, that plan never crystalized.

“I was living my life, married and enjoying my husband,” Mrs. Anderson said. “One day he was here, and the next day he was not.”

In April 2020, Mrs. Anderson lost her husband after he contracted COVID-19.

“When he went to the hospital, he was able to walk himself to the stretcher,” Mrs. Anderson said. “I had absolutely no idea that would be the last time I would see him. Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t even able to say goodbye. My heart still aches with that.”

Coping with such a devastating loss was hard. She decided to start a foundation — using the first letters of her own name and her late husband’s to name it. The DBALSA Foundation launched earlier this year in April with a mission to provide widows compassion, love, support and respect. The DBALSA Foundation offers referral services for counseling, organizing finances, self-care and more. It also has partnered with various churches to offer support services.

“After my husband’s death, it has helped me tremendously to know that I am carrying out our plans,” Mrs. Anderson said. “He is definitely in my heart and in my head as I go forward with his memory.”

In addition to starting The DBALSA Foundation, Mrs. Anderson also works for the City of Richmond’s Department of Social Services as an administrative support in the Division of Children, Families and Adults. It is another way of giving back to the city she loves.

There are still days when she struggles. Mrs. Anderson says that walking in her fear of the unknown has become a mantra for her. And when things are tough she takes inspiration from her mother, the late Ruth S. White, whom she calls her “North Star” and her “rock.”

“My mother came from a very small town in South Carolina and clawed her way to Baltimore to make a life and raise her family,” Mrs. Anderson said. “She poured that spirit into me. She was always my best cheerleader.”

Mrs. Anderson says that she has strived to be that same bright light and inspiration for her own daughters and her grandchildren.

Now she hopes that sharing her experiences and offering support through her foundation will bring hope, health and healing to other widows. She’s even thought about offering support for widowers after realizing that many men are in the same situation after losing their wives.

While experiencing grief is something everyone inevitably will experience, Mrs. Anderson believes having a strong support group can help lighten the load of depression and grief.

Meet a widow providing vital support to other widows and this week’s Personality, Lynda Sharp Anderson:

Volunteer position: President and CEO of The DBALSA Foundation.

Occupation: Administrative support for City of Richmond Department of Social Services.

Date and place of birth: April 9 in Baltimore.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Education: Baltimore City Public School System; attended Towson State University.

Family: Two sisters, three adopted sisters, one brother, three daughters, one son-in-law, two grandchildren.

The DBALSA Foundation is: A new ministry providing hope, help and healing for widows of color who live in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland (DMV) area.

Mission: The DBALSAFoundation seeks to assist widows of color with getting on with their lives, finding a safe harbor as they heal, cope with their loss, provide funding assistance to assist them with necessary finances to survive, and most importantly, turning their test into their testimony.

When it became apparent this foundation is needed: When I became a widow in 2020, I struggled to find help to cope with my grief and everyday needs. In due course, I slowly found my way with the help of family, trusted friends and associates, and the Black church. However, I decided to “be the answer” I was seeking by giving birth to the DBALSA Foundation.

Meaning of name: DBALSA is named after my late husband — Dolson Barnett Anderson Jr. and me, his widow, Lynda Sharp Anderson. Through DBALSA, I am able to still feel connected to my beloved Dolson, who transitioned to glory on April 22, 2020, from contracting COVID-19. Dolson and I were married for nearly 30 years. To pay tribute to Dolson’s life ministry is to honor his devotion to me and our family, friends, church, community and his career.

Grief and The DBALSA Foundation: People experience grief differently. The DBALSA Foundation supports and assists widows during their most difficult time in their widow’s journey.

Healing and The DBALSA Foundation: Healing from a tragedy is also different for everyone. The foundation’s sole purpose is to walk alongside those experiencing such tragedies with compassion, love, support and respect. One of our mottos is: “Be a friend to another woman, that friend who sees the first tear falling, holds the second tear, and prevents the third from falling.”

Services offered: The DBALSA Foundation offers referral services which include but are not limited to e-prayer groups; counseling, financial, self-care and safe harbor resources; e-group sessions via Zoom, and more.

The DBALSA Foundation partners with: Fit to Give, Westwood Baptist Church and Presence Place Inc. in the Richmond metropolitan area, and Balm in Gilead for Communities of Color and Sahara Communications in the Baltimore metropolitan area. We are seeking additional partners to join us in our efforts.

What I have learned about myself on this journey: I continue to evolve in the knowledge that I can be both strong and weak, organized and chaotic, fearful and fearless, bitter and sweet — all at the same time. That’s me, and I stand strong in this newfound awareness!

What I now know about grief: I stand in the truth that experiencing grief is inevitable. We all will cross that bridge and experience grief in some fashion — either directly or indirectly. However, having foundational support during our periods of sorrow will help determine our outcome.

Depression and grief are: Not a destination; they are a journey, a sojourn. Depression and grief can take many paths, but our gateway of support can lighten the load and make a world of difference on our widow’s journey.

How to become involved: We highly encourage those who are on a widow’s or widower’s journey to visit our website thedbalsafoundation.org, or contact me at lyndasa1999@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you! A perfect day for me is having helped someone along the way, then my living will not be in vain.

What I am continuing to learn about myself during the pandemic: How fearfully and wonderfully made I am, and how blessed I really am to be loved and supported by so many.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I love to watch a sunrise and witness God’s great handiwork.

A quote that inspires me: “Today I begin a new life; I will greet this day with love in my heart. I will persist until I succeed. I am nature’s greatest miracle. I will live this day as if it is my last. Today I will be a master of my emotions. I will laugh at the world; today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. I will act now. I will pray for guidance.”

My friends describe me as: Fun loving, funny and spiritual.

At the top of my “to-do” list is: To create the “to-do” list and then execute it.

Best late-night snack: Hot tamales ... all night long!!!

The best thing my parents ever taught me: To love and be loved in return.

The person who influenced me the most: My mother, the late fabulous, incomparable Ruth S. White, who was my North Star and my Rock. I miss her every day!

Book that influenced me the most: “The Greatest Salesman in the World: The Ten Scrolls” by Og Mandino.

What I’m reading now: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

Next goal: Building a network of grief and financial counselors, creating care packages for local widows and widowers, as well as engaging in strategic fundraising are at the top of my “to do/what’s next” list.