Mary says never forgetting where she came from has led to the greatest joy in her life—the ability to give back. Her charity, Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN), allows Mary to help the women whose screams kept her up at night as a child. "It's a dream come true," she says.

In 2009, Mary opened the doors to the Mary J. Blige Center for Women. The learning center serves struggling young women in Yonkers. It offers GED classes and has a computer lab where women can search for jobs and create résumés. "My thing is if you save women, you save the world," Mary says.

The center also provides childcare. "This is probably one of the most important places because when women are looking for jobs, a lot of time they don't have babysitters," she says. "That's another thing that holds them back."

And, Mary says they're just getting started. "From mothers to daughters to aunts, black, white, it doesn't matter who you are: If you need help, the Mary J. Blige Center for Women is here," she says. "It's starting small, but we're going to get bigger."


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