Lucille ONeal-The Orlando Times
A Woman Who Should Be Celebrated
BY JALESSA NEAL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Photo Cutline: Left to right: Dr. Kim McNair and Lucille O’Neal
In honor of Women’s History Month, The Orlando Times newspaper is proud to highlight Lucille O’Neal. Known for her charity work and public service, she has a heart for giving back to young women and all of those in her community. A proud partner of the newspaper, her example shines bright.
Lucille left Orlando in May 2020 to start a new life in to Atlanta, Georgia. Her son, Shaquille, was already living there so when her daughter tragically passed away, she and her other two children decided to move to Georgia to be closer to each other.
“Things are going good. I'm still getting situated. I haven't tapped into the community as much as I'd like to because of the pandemic but I'm connecting virtually and through phone conversations,” she said. “I'm looking forward to all that Atlanta will have to offer, it's a beautiful place with a lot of good people.”
Lucille had to cancel her annual golf tournament and faith and fellowship luncheon due to the pandemic. While it is a disappointment, she understands that the safety of others is more important.
“[I’ve been] staying home and going along with all the restrictions that they have. People in my family have died and people I know have gotten sick and also recovered, but it's a serious thing so I'm just staying out of the way and I'm not rushing anything,” she said.
Although COVID-19 has put some events on hold, it has not stopped Lucille from planning for once it is safe to gather again. She plans to establish a relationship with the community and introduce the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund to Atlanta. Her first goal is to schedule a golf tournament in her community.
“She is authentic, she says what she means, and she means what she says. She has a heart for helping others, uplifting, and forming a camaraderie with women-with everybody really-within her community,” said Dr. Kim McNair. “I love her! She's just so full of knowledge. As a young woman coming up behind her, she was able to drop so many gems that [I] carry for the rest of [my] life.”
In the meanwhile, Lucille has been participating in various virtual events. She had a speaking engagement with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which raises money for those fighting breast cancer. She honored her daughter and mother by sharing their cancer stories. As a founding member, she also spoke at a virtual event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mothers of Professional Basketball Players, Inc.
Additionally, in celebration of International Women's Day she was part of a panel of women that virtually got together to talk about equality, sisterhood, love, how they’ve been managing throughout the pandemic, and what they plan to do moving forward. It was streamed live and presented by Kim McNair Productions as part of her Women on the Move Live series.
“[Lucille O’Neal] should be celebrated. She always stood tall and represented well, that is the type of woman that you want to highlight. Let's highlight a woman who shows that no matter what comes at you, you can still stand, and you can still thrive,” said McNair.
“I would like to share with young women that it's never too late for a new beginning, as long as we are living we are part of Women's History Month so all that we do we, do with purpose and with a goal in
mind,” said Lucille. “Michelle Obama once said, ‘just try new things don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and soar’ and I concur.”
Lucille was born in Dublin, Georgia and was raised in Newark, New Jersey. Growing up, she was mocked for her tall height. Later in life, she lost her happiness and identity, leading her to drink heavily.
She knew that she had to make a drastic change in her life, and she did when she attended the Adult Education Program at Bethune-Cookman University where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 2003 and then went on to earn her Master of Arts in Organizational Management at the University of Phoenix in 2005.
She also lends herself to various charitable foundations and organizations including serving as the Former President of Mothers of Professional Basketball Players Inc., serving as the Southeast director of the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, and much more. She also wrote a memoir entitled, “Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go,” which was published in 2010.
As a pastor, she is connected to New Life Evangelistic Center of Orlando and Word Connection Ministries. Bishop Antonio C. Richardson and First Lady Cynthia Richardson are the leading pastors. Lucille has four adult children, 15 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
“As older women, we should always make a point to have a major influence in the lives of our young women because right now some of them seem to be a little lost and some of them feel like nobody cares,” Lucille said. “We should always let them know that we care and leave the lines of communication open. It's important that we stay in touch.”