Harlem New York will never be the same after being exposed to the passion and energy that Marva Allen brings to the conference table. Single-handedly her activism has brought unity and structure to a floundering community. She has taken on a role that has been uniquely American and designed for politicians, but like most West Indians with a vision, she refuses to accept mediocrity and living beneath the threshold of success. At the time of her birth in Sav-la-mar Jamaica West Indies, no one knew that this innocent little girl would grow up to impact the lives of an entire community thousands of miles away in America.
Marva Allen left her beloved birth place in rural Jamaica at the age of 9 years, and attended boarding school at Alpha Academy in Kingston. At the age of 16 years, she graduated high school and migrated to England. She achieved her first degree while in England and became a nurse. After 6 years there, she moved to the United States of America., and attended medical school at the University of Michigan. In her sophomore year she got married, left the medical school, and completed her master’s degree in Business. For the next twenty-three years, she successfully owned and operated her own computer company. Then she retired and moved to New York to become an author.
In 2003 she walked into the bookstore that she now owns, and that was the first time that she had ever been in an all black community; Harlem. That was when she discovered that she really did not know the history of her people; and that the people around her did not know who they really were.In 2004 she became the owner of the bookstore, and there she began a journey to receive as she describes it, ‘an education that her degrees did not provide’. The book store features a café that accentuates the heartwarming ambiance that permeates throughout.
The store carries an impressive collection of books written by authors in the black community; also highlighting the works of many West Indian writers. Every age group is facilitated at Hueman Bookstore and Café, which is home to several writing and reading clubs. Along with its book signings, readings, community discussions and other activities, Hueman Bookstore and Café has become a pillar in the Harlem community.
Marva Allen champions the idea of self-sufficiency, and has devoted every waking moment to motivate her people to embrace a paradigm shift, and rise higher to achieve their goals. “For too long”, she says “Black is seen as a limitation of our culture; it prevents people from dreaming big”. “The hardest thing for me is to help people understand their total value”. She says.
Mrs. Allen believes that a vehicle must be created to provide opportunities for people to be self-sufficient; and she has created such a vehicle, by establishing the ‘Power of One Program’.
Along with 35 Harlem businesses, the Power of One program was launched in 2010. It is the basis for a national campaign to encourage urban communities to spend, save, invest, and donate in their own communities. The Power of One is a for profit social entrepreneurship company designed to support and reinvigorate the Harlem community by re-funneling funds back into the village of Harlem.
People who live, work, and visit Harlem can enjoy discounts and benefits at participating Power of One businesses by purchasing the Power of One Affinity card for $1.00. The profits from the sale of the Power of One Affinity cards are then re-invested into those Harlem businesses and become a dynamic means of sustaining and providing economic growth in the Harlem community.
The grassroots movement hails the Power of One as a model that can be used in any urban market to transform communities one dollar at a time. The goal is to sell $1 million (plus) $1.00 Affinity cards and then reinvest that money back into the Harlem community.