A beacon of what is possible…
Today’s Member spotlight is on Charles “Chuck” Johnson. Charles graduated from our program on December 14, 2020.
Charles time with us at the Wilmington HOPE Commission can be captured in one sentence: “He came, he saw, he conquered.” Charles had the mindset to change his life when he started our program and that was evident in his approach, implementation and completion of the program. And, because of his focused approach I did not have the opportunity to have more than a quick passing conversation with this delightful gentleman until just before his graduation. Charles did so well in our program that we accidently awarded him Role Model of the month in two different months, August and October! (Our bad.)
When Charles came to our program, he was already employed with a cleaning company. However, when that job ended, he quickly found a position with Brandywine Furniture. His initial position was as a furniture mover but he managed, in a relatively short time, to become a sales person for Brandywine Furniture which he really enjoys. Brandywine Furniture recognized pretty quickly that Charles was a natural salesman! That is not surprising, after one conversation with Charles you will see why. He is a great communicator, engaging, self-deprecating, smart and funny. For example, when he told me he was always good with numbers and talking to people, I complimented him saying ‘you really have all the attributes of being a great salesman.’ He replied with a twinkle in his eye, “If I was really a good salesman, I wouldn’t have kept getting caught! [at high risk sales 😊]
Let me tell you what I learned about Charles from our conversation. He was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. He is an avid reader and gains inspiration from books such as those authored by James Allen. As he puts it he ‘doesn’t have time for nonsense, [he] likes books that provide beneficial knowledge’. He also enjoys football and basketball, as an observer not a player, lest you think otherwise. 😊 And, he is a proud NY Giants fan!
He also modestly considers himself a “world champion caliber scrabble player” as well as being quite an ‘accomplished’ chess player. (Full disclaimer, I only have Charles view on his playing acumen.)
Something you may not know about Charles is that he taught himself Spanish. I asked him did he practice his Spanish with someone we both know that is bilingual and he replied, no because that individual speaks perfectly good English.😊
Though Charles is self-reliant and self-motivated, he does credit his mother and his significant other as being a great support system for him.
I asked Charles what the HOPE Commission has taught him. His reply: “The HOPE Commission has:
- taught me patience and the importance of self-accountability;
- helped strengthen my belief in myself as far as living prosocial, through the examples of others who came before me. (Charles informed me that he and our Peer Mentor Sinque grew up together.); and
- shown me that it begins and ends with our choices.”
I also asked Charles why he feels reentry will be successful for him this time. He replied ‘ he is older and wiser and frankly, prison is harder these days then when he first went in and they try to keep you longer now! ‘ His mindset is also different now.
What does Charles want to do after graduation? He has some entrepreneurial aspirations along with plans to travel to warm climates like the Dominican Republic. However, we know from what Charles has shown us during our time with him is that he can do whatever he wants to do. We are really proud of Charles accomplishment and continue to expect great things from him.
Today’s Tuesday Member spotlight is on Jason Bonsall. Jason graduated from our evidenced program on September 24, 2020!
When I think of Jason, the word that comes to mind is perseverance. Jason lost two important individuals in his life – his sister to substance abuse and his mother to a brain aneurysm. Their loss is something that he carries with him constantly because he shared a close bond with them both. That sense of loss can sometimes weigh heavily on him. However, in talking with Jason he has turned that loss into a more positive viewpoint by considering his sister and mother as angels constantly with him and looking out for him. That is not to say there haven’t been bumps in the road on his way to completing the Wilmington HOPE Commission program, but at each “bump” Jason persevered and he knows that his angels are always with him.
Employment is one of the core goals of the Wilmington HOPE Commission’s evidenced based reentry program. Liveable wage employment in conjunction with other elements such as stable housing , cognitive behavioral intervention, and addressing any substance abuse/mental health issues are critical to reduce/avoid recidivism. Soon after joining the Wilmington HOPE Commission program, Jason was employed. Jason began working with ABM Industries, Inc (an employment agency) in Shipping & Receiving for Tastykake. Jason took to employment like a fish to water. He stayed with ABM Industries for nine months before accepting a position with JBW Enterprises which is an energy company. Jason is a salesman in their Sales and Marketing department! Jason tells me that he elected to work on full rather than partial commission because he can make more money that way. Why? Because as he tells it with a twinkle in his eye – “he’s a pretty good salesman!” I am sure he is!
When asked what he learned from the Wilmington HOPE Commission, Jason replied: “The HOPE Commission means continuous help and support. Also, [it provides] the knowledge and continuous push [for me] to want to be better. [And it] provides a safe and secure outlet for my feelings.” He also said that those “bumps in the road made him stronger”. Additionally, he had some words of advice for others – “Don’t’ be afraid to ask for help – especially for guys”.
Congratulations are in order for Jason on a personal front. He recently became engaged and the wedding is planned for next October! On the professional front, he plans to become a licensed Home Inspector one day. He already has a licensed home inspector that is willing to allow him to be an apprentice with him when his application is accepted. Jason found this home inspector apprenticeship opportunity on his own using those “salesman” skills no doubt.
Jason continues to persevere as he graduates from our program, with his two angels looking out for him as he moves to his next chapter in life. We look forward to his continuing successful reentry!
Today’s Tuesday Member spotlight is on Darvin Hagains. Darvin is scheduled to graduate from our program on October 26, 2020.
Darvin is a driven individual with a sly wit. When asked about our program he said “The Wilmington HOPE Commission is what you make of it. They will help out as long as you are doing your part. If you [are] just doing nothing they will push you to do better and they [are] always there when you need them …most of the time. ”
One of the requirements for graduation from the Wilmington HOPE Commission reentry program is employment. Darvin’s initial employment was our Odd Jobs position at the HOPE Commission, which is a temporary starter job we have for a member who is job searching. Darvin moved from Odd/Jobs to our seasonal Northeast Clean Crew before obtaining the two jobs he currently holds – 1) FishisFast (Warehouse) and 2) Roots (Restaurant). His strong work ethic and dependability helped him progress from his initial starter jobs to his current positions. He also told me that he likes having his current bank account because his money makes money – called interest.
Additionally, Darvin has been recognized by the Wilmington HOPE Commission twice as a program participant. First, in June with our “keep it up” award. This is an encouragement award given to a member who is on track with our program. Secondly, Darvin was recognized in July with our Role Model award. The Role Model award is the Wilmington HOPE Commission’s monthly award to a e who has met and maintained the four pillars of has met and maintained the four pillars of our program (i.e. 85% or better attendance, Employment of at least 35 hrs/week, Stable housing and is Substance abuse free.)
I asked Darvin why he is making the change now in his life. He said “ It isn’t hard to change.” He recalled how he used to terrorize his neighborhood because he didn’t have anyone to keep him from doing so. But he now has two boys of his own and plans to be active in their lives so they don’t have the level of “free will” he had.
As I mentioned above, Darvin is driven and has a plan. He recently purchased a mobile home with his significant other and is currently renting the land it resides on. His side hustle is lawn care/yardwork which he hopes to develop into a business. So if you have any yardwork let us know and we will connect you with Darvin! Darvin is well on his way to successful reentry!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Rashidi Little. Rashidi graduated from the Wilmington HOPE Commission program on January 11, 2021.
One of the first things to know about Rashidi is how to pronounce his name. It is (Ra-she-de), with emphasis on the “she”. If not pronounced correctly, he will politely let you know how to properly enunciate his name. J
Rashidi is a quiet young man with a twinkle in his eye unless he is tired. J He enjoys reading fictional books by authors such as Stephen King, James Patterson and John Grisham. He also enjoys reading about real estate because he is interested in getting into the real estate business one day. He also is a Lebron James and Laker’s fan. When asked if he is a football fan, he says it takes too long! So I take that the answer is no.
His quiet nature belies his adventurous spirit! His future bucket list includes: bungee jumping, sky diving and hiking. He also wants to travel, with the country of Italy being at the top of his list!
Something you might be surprised to learn about Rashidi is that he has an “artist’s soul”. He enjoys looking at art because he tries to understand why and how the artist came up with the particular artwork and the colors (if applicable) used.
Rashidi is an animal lover and has an unusual pet – a bearded dragon that he has had since July, 2020. However, he also likes traditional pets and plans to get a “blue pit bull” once he moves to a residence that will allow him to have a dog.
Rashidi initially worked with the Wilmington HOPE Commission’s Northeast Clean Crew upon entering our evidenced based program. He established himself as a consciousness worker and a team player. For example, whenever the clean crew was short-staffed, Rashidi was one of the Crew members that would always step up to make sure the work was done. As a result, he received a Wilmington HOPE Commission ‘keep-it-up award’. The Clean Crew also taught him how to be the type of supervisor he would want to be.
He set his next employment goal on employment with the Performance Food Group where a family member is employed. He patiently awaited the opportunity for employment with this employer and it finally paid off. He is currently employed by the Performance Food Group as a Selector. As a Selector, he fills orders on a pallet and takes it to the loading dock. He has sort of adjusted to the late night schedule. J
He has an entrepreneurial spirit and looks forward to running his own business. His future employment plans include: 1) starting a moving a company, and going into residential real estate and eventually, commercial real estate.
I asked Rashidi what the Wilmington HOPE Commission means to him. His reply: “The HOPE Commission:
- Is a Safe Haven;
- Is a good and trusting program;
- Keeps your head in the right direction; and
- Has amazing staff you can relieve stress to. “
When asked why he decided to change his life now, Rashidi responded that he has goals that he wants to achieve particularly since he will turn 25 this year. He wants to take care of his family and not have them go through what he went through already. He has a wonderful support system in his dad, grandma and his girlfriend.
We are proud to see Rashidi graduate from our program and we are proud of his accomplishments to date. We look forward to Rashidi’s continued success in his next chapter.
Today’s Member spotlight is on James Beavers. James graduated from our program on January 11, 2021.
James is a confident young man that enjoys word play. He is a tall young man with a pleasant demeanor. He enjoys speaking very fast with a plethora of ideas and interest pursuits. He describes himself as a very open person whom you have to get to know before he opens up. But once that genie is out of the bottle, good luck trying to get it back in! J
James has done well in our evidenced based program. He was even recognized as a Role Model for the month of October, 2020!
James is currently employed at Fiber Processing. He recently received his CDL License from Dawn Career Institute. He wants to begin using that license and eventually own his own trucking company. He also would like to sell real estate and eventually own a real estate company. Additionally, he enjoys giving back and wants to become a philanthropist!
James is the youngest of three children. In his free time, he enjoys playing and watching sports, hanging out with friends, and enjoying good food. His favorite basketball team is the San Antonio Spurs and his favorite baseball and football teams are in Pittsburgh (i.e. Pirates and Steelers).
I asked him why he wants to change his life now. Although he is a young man, he feels that he wasted five years of his life but he is now on the “straight and narrow”. James is fortunate to have a strong support system that includes his mother, father, brother and girlfriend. His motivation for remaining on the “straight and narrow” is that he doesn’t want to “fall back into a place where you feel totally helpless”.
I asked him what The Wilmington Hope Commission means to him and he responded it is a program that allows you to:
- “Reenter society and reinvent yourself.
- You are your own program.
- You get out of it what you put into it.”
In our conversation, I asked him, if money wasn’t an issue what would he do. He said he would sleep for a month and then travel the world. I guess he needs to rest up for all that travelling. J He does want to visit Las Vegas in the near future.
We are proud of James and his accomplishments and expect great things in his future. Who knows if you are in the market for real estate in a few years, it just might be James who sells it to you!
Today’s Member Spotlight is on Damien Robinson.
The Wilmington HOPE Commission’s correctional reentry program seeks to graduate medium to high-risk justice-involved individuals from its program to reduce/prevent recidivism of those individuals as they reenter society. We recognize that meeting the four required pillars (i.e. >85% program attendance, ~full time employment, stable housing, and being substance abuse free) for graduation is a high bar to meet by the medium to high risk justice-involved individuals we serve. However, we have recognized that some of those that are unable to meet our high bar for graduation during the program, still benefit from our evidence based program and are able to meet the end goal of not recidivating. Damien Robinson is an example of such a person. Damien recently visited the Achievement Center to let us know he is doing well. He is employed by Amazon through a temp agency. In his own words he describes what the Wilmington HOPE Commission program meant to him. In typical Damien form, he listed three items:
- “I received what all urban black men need and that was structure.”
- “I learned how to take care of my obligations and put priorities first.”
- “I got the greatest thing in life and that was another family – my professional family.”
Damien is a reminder to us all, that there are different ways other than graduation to measure the impact and success of our programming and services. The ultimate goal of our programming is to avoid recidivism and Damien is doing that! One of the greatest compliments to all of us at the HOPE Commission is to know that members like Damien think of us as “family”. That embodies true appreciation of the effort poured into each our members by the HOPE Commission staff to show our members that each of them can be as our tagline states “a beacon of what is possible”.
Today’s Tuesday Member spotlight is on Kimar Johnson. Kimar is scheduled to graduate from our program on October 26, 2020.
One of the first things you notice about Kimar is his height. And yes, one of his first loves was/is basketball. He was able to parlay that love of basketball and his talent into a full 4 year basketball scholarship to Virginia Union. He completed 2 years of college where he studied Computer Information Systems. He was also part of a traveling professional ABA basketball team that enabled him to travel as far as Greece. He even made the professional team of the Delaware 87ers. I asked him what did he like about basketball and he said it was how it made him feel. “It was a place he could always go to feel good.”
Another characteristic about Kimar is that he is always respectful and quietly personable. He also likes to make others smile.
Employment is a one of the core goals of our members for graduation and Kimar was on top of it when he joined our program having a job at Fibre Processing Corporation. He later was able to obtain a job at Specialty Finishes Contractors doing carpentry which he enjoys. He has already received a raise during his six months there which attests to his good work ethic. He is also on his way to becoming a union member in the Delaware Local 1 through his employment. One way you know you are doing a great job is when your employer wants to invest in you! Well, that is the case for Kimar! Beginning in October, Kimar begins an apprenticeship program for masonry. It is a 3-5 yr program that will earn him union recognized certification in Masonry.
Kimar has also been recognized by the Wilmington HOPE Commission with our “Keep it Up” award in June. This is an encouragement award given to a member to recognize the work they have put into the program and that they are continuing on track with our program. Kimar summarizes the Wilmington HOPE Commission as follows, it: “1) gave him good leadership and counseling; 2) made him want to do better; 3) let him know he was not alone in handling issues that might arise; and 4) provided the ultimate motivation for him to do the right thing.”
I asked Kimar what caused him to want to change his life. He said “seeing others in prison with more serious crimes [hence a longer incarceration] made him want to get out and [do the right thing]”. He also has two beautiful children that he wants to instill “gratefulness” in. He describes them as being “both of his legs” to show how important they are to him. Kimar is anxious to make up for lost time due to his justice involvement. He is not yet 30 but he has plans – in addition to the career path he has with Specialty Finishes Contractors he also has started a property maintenance business called Kay’s Property Maintenance whose tag line is “My Job is Too Make Your Property Look Good”. If you can use his maintenance services, please let him know! J
Kimar has gone through our program demonstrating a willingness to change his life. We are proud of the accomplishments of Kimar and look forward to his successful reentry!
Today’s Tuesday Member spotlight is on Hakeem Coates. Hakeem is scheduled to graduate from our program on October 26, 2020.
Hakeem is an intelligent young man with a calm disposition and the ability to excel in whatever he puts his mind to. In talking with Hakeem, I told him that he has such a rich story that one would need to do a series rather than a single spotlight to cover it all!
What struck me about Hakeem, is that he loves to learn. He was a part of the Inside/Out College Course Program at Howard R Young CI. This program brings together justice involved individuals and students from the University of Delaware (UD) to learn and exchange ideas. From each cohort, one scholarship is given to a justice-involved individual to pursue a degree at UD. Hakeem was the scholarship recipient in his cohort! Through the Inside/Out program Hakeem met several mentors – Drs. Ben Fleury-Steiner and Yassar Payne from UD and Dr. Chen from Christiana Care who are helping him achieve some of his educational aspirations. Hakeem plans to complete his degree in Sociology and obtain an associate’s degree in Art, both from UD. Hakeem loves data collection and will be working in Dr. Payne’s Participatory Action Research (PAR) project collecting data relative to 16-24 year olds that are victims of violence.
Before coming to the HOPE Commission program Hakeem had an internship with the Laffey McHugh Foundation. He provided his analysis, as a ‘city citizen’, to a variety of community organization programs that included areas of improvement and sustainability. This “consulting” work required a lot of field work and research on Hakeem’s part to understand the mission and vision of a variety of community providers that received funding from the foundation and who they served.
Currently Hakeem is working at Second Chances Farm – hydrophonic farming and with Game Changers – an advocacy/community activism program that holds legislation/legislators accountable.
At 6’ 4, you would be surprised to know that his nickname from childhood is “Tink”. Hakeem loves words and is a gifted lyricist that is known in the battle rap circuit as “Tink tha Demon”. Tink tha Demon has been ‘battling’ since January 5, 2014. He quickly moved from amateur to professional battle rapping in 6 months which, as he told me, is virtually unheard of! [In case you didn’t know, like me, it normally takes 2-3 yrs to reach that level!] The interesting part is that Hakeem only began battle rapping to get his rap music heard, but now his interest is reversed – he loves battle rapping and its creative process. Being the insightful young man he is, he recounted how ‘battle rapping’ has taught him a valuable life lesson. He admits he “got too cocky” and thought he didn’t need to follow his normal preparation process when battling a less seasoned opponent – He hasn’t made that mistake again! His battle rap prowess has enabled him to pursue something else he enjoys which is travel. He has been to numerous cities/states as well as to the countries of Africa, Kenya, and Zaire. Did I mention, he has even created a rap for the Wilmington HOPE Commission which is on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/HopeCommission/videos/368158460995346/
Additionally, Hakeem has developed a ‘Focus on the Lens’ project that is an educational battle rap program for youth. It is a way for them to learn through battle rap. Participants select who they will represent for example – Rosa Parks vs. Harriet Tubman or Martin Luther King vs. Malcolm X in which they have to research both individuals to be able to “battle rap”. What a great idea!
Another fun fact about Hakeem is his interest is paranormal activity. He has witnessed some of these activities first hand!
When asked what the Wilmington HOPE Commission means to him he responds: “My experience at the HOPE Commission – Achievement Center has been beyond valuable as well as resourceful in my process of reentering society in a positive manner. [It has taught me that focusing on the positive things in my life increases my chances when it comes to success and playing my part in the reduction of recidivism. The staff is beyond helpful in our process of change and strive on a day to day basis to provide us with not only motivation but the necessary tools it takes to achieve our goals and accomplish things from a positive perspective.”
One of the inspirational sayings on my office white board is “ Do not let your past, prevent your future possibilities.” Hakeem has definitely taken those words to heart. We are proud of the accomplishments of Hakeem and look forward to his successful reentry!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Quentin Turner. Quentin graduated from our program on February 8, 2021.
Quentin is a gregarious young man with a lot of strong opinions. Quentin describes himself as a creative thinker that enjoys debating. He enjoys reading autobiographies, self enhancement books and particularly about conspiracy theories. He loves pushing people. He says he doesn’t tell people what they want to hear but what he feels will make them change. He doesn’t mind being wrong but he needs to understand why he is wrong. Quentin has the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. However, once you are engaged with him, it is up to you to figure out how to disengage. J
Quentin relaxes either alone or by being with his family. He says he really enjoys time with his children and family, they give him peace of mind. He enjoys “cracking jokes” and riding bikes.
He also has quite the eclectic taste in music. He likes county and jazz in addition to rap and R&B.
He defines his support system as his fiancé, family, father, a few friends and the Wilmington HOPE Commission. He said he even finds social media to be a support system.
His favorite sports are basketball and football. His favorite basketball player is Lebron James and his favorite football player is Tom Brady. He humbly opines about his athletic skills – although he played baseball and soccer in his youth, he did not play those sports as well as he played basketball and quarterback. As Quentin tells it he was a “real good” shooting guard in basketball and quite good as a quarterback in football! Alright, Quentin Lebron Brady! J
When asked why change his life now he replied that he has a lot he can offer society. He is tired of what was and wants to do something different.
I asked Quentin what the HOPE Commission has taught him. His reply: “The HOPE Commission:
- Has taught me about togetherness.
- Has taught me how to prioritize – how to handle business for the betterment of myself and my family. (The energy behind it.)
- Is a place of love, joy, energy, hope, unity and a place of restoration.
- Has helped strengthen my belief in myself as far as living prosocial, through the examples of others who came before me, and
- Has shown me that it begins and ends with our choices.”
Quentin received the HOPE Commission Role Model of the month during the month of October. He was a part of the HOPE Commission’s Northeast Clean Crew before obtaining a job, through a temp agency, with the City of Wilmington – sanitation department. Unfortunately, he was injured on the job which has given him the opportunity to take a step back to learn what he wanted to do in the future.
His future goals are to be entrepreneur by developing his own moving company and/or working with real estate. He also has a passion for working with youth.
Quentin would love to travel to Switzerland, Africa, and Tahiti. He would love to visit Africa, because it is the “motherland”, and Tahiti, because of its beautiful waters. At the end of the day, he would love to travel the whole world if he could!
We are proud of Quentin and look forward to seeing what his next chapter of life holds!
Today’s Tuesday Member spotlight is on Gerry Hairston. Gerry graduates from our program on October 26, 2020.
Gerry is a quiet spirit that is hard working, not just at work, but in prevailing over barriers that threatened to derail his progress through the program. In recognition of that perseverance he received a “Keep it Up” award in June and was also awarded the “Role Model of the Month” award for September.
Gerry landed a job with Masley’s Glove factory less than a month after coming to the HOPE Commission program and has been working there ever since. That is an amazing accomplishment given that Jerry’s last “official job” was at JW Walker in 1989. Jerry was also able to get his own place a few months ago. Gerry is also a skilled house painter that sometimes enables him to supplement his Masley’s income. He also enjoys doing masonry work.
When asked what the HOPE Commission means to him, Gerry replied “The Wilmington HOPE Commission means help, guidance and drive. It gave me an opportunity to stay out of the streets and to better myself. Coming to the Wilmington HOPE Commission – my brain started working again. The program provided me with the tools to get to where he wanted to go such as learning how to use a computer to create a resume and to use email. The HOPE Commission is like family and they stay in contact with you. There are times when I wanted to give up, but due to my HOPE Commission family they would not let me. I had to get out of myself in order to let the program work. I wouldn’t trade the HOPE Commission for nothing in the world.”
I asked Gerry what makes him happy and he said “money” with a smile. He expanded upon that by saying he likes being able to live comfortably which money allows you to do. He also enjoys spending time with his children and making sure his that his mother is ok. Gerry has four children, two grandchildren and 1 great grandchild and dearly loves them all.
Some fun facts about Gerry. Growing up he liked playing football (running back) and baseball where he played every position including shortstop which was his favorite position. As he tells it, he had some serious athletic skills and played in the city leagues even as an adult. He played until his ‘bad’ knees told him he had to stop. Another fun fact is that Gerry has an identical twin brother and has the nickname “Twin”.
Gerry has overcome some difficult barriers in our program and in doing so embodies our tag line of “a beacon of what is possible….” We are proud of the accomplishments of Gerry and look forward to his continuing successful reentry!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Darrell Stokes. Darrell Stokes is an alumnae of the Wilmington HOPE Commission having graduated from our program on April 11, 2020.
Darrell is a thoughtful individual and a dependable worker. He came to the program already employed by Goodwill. He obtained his flagging certification and then worked as a flagger. He is now working at Connections as a Direct Support Professional.
Darrell is originally from Chester, Pa. but moved to Wilmington when he was in grade school. He has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. He is a comedian and enjoys making people laugh – even if he is the only one laughing at his own jokes. He can also eloquently speak from the heart. If you saw the Wilmington HOPE Commission graduation on our Facebook page on July 23, 2020 you would have seen (and can still see) Darrell in action.
For fun Darrell likes to play video games, watch basketball and football and spend time with his family. “He lives for his children and no longer has any desire to do anything illegal”, he tells me. Since he missed so much time with his daughters while incarcerated, he now really enjoys being an active part of their lives. As a result, he has really become a homebody.
Darrell says that “the Wilmington HOPE Commission really pushed him” to change his ways. That coupled with the fact that he was “tired of doing what he had been doing” he feels he now put him on the successful reentry track. He considers “the HOPE Commission a second family”. He credits a special cousin that is the same age as him with being his biggest support system and being his best friend. Additionally, he credits his youngest brother for always being there for him. He says they are both there to make sure he is accountable and does the right thing. This is the longest Darrell has been home and off of probation and he plans for this time to be his last!
Darrell has a plan for his future. He would like to own his own home and, pursue his college degree in Human Services. He enjoys working with the youth and hopes to pursue that interest one day.
We look forward to Darrell’s pursuit of his Human Services degree. J Darrell is well on his way to successful reentry!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Rasheed White. Rasheed graduated from our program on February 8, 2021.
Rasheed is a pleasant, quiet, laid back, and consistent individual. These are admirable qualities in achieving the four pillars (i.e. attendance, stable housing, clean UDS, and employment) required by the evidence based HOPE Commission reentry program. Rasheed has had perfect attendance for his group sessions at WHC which is a testament to his consistency! I asked him how he accomplished this remarkable feat and his response was: “This program is not that hard, just do what you are supposed to do.” Rasheed was also our December, 2020 Role Model for being a wonderful example to others of adhering to and maintaining the four pillars.
I asked Rasheed why now he believes he can turn his life around. He responded that he is more mature now and wants to change to be an example for his children and niece and nephews. He credits his siblings, mom, girlfriend and his child’s mother as being great supports for him.
I asked him what The Wilmington Hope Commission means to him and he responded it is a program that allows you to:
- “Reenter society and reinvent yourself.
- You are your own program.
- You get out of it what you put into it.”
Rasheed initially started working with the Northeast Clean Crew when he first came to the HOPE Commission. While he was on the Clean Crew he received one of our Keep It Up Awards because of his great work ethic and filling in for any voids on the Clean Crew. He is currently working at Polymer Technology through a temporary agency. However, as of March 1, he will be working for the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation department!
In his free time, Rasheed enjoys spending time with his family, particularly his mom, his children and his nephew and niece. For entertainment, he enjoys going out to eat and listening to music, preferably R& B or rap. He also reading relaxing and likes learning. He wants to learn how to run a business. He loves watching his favorite basketball team, the Lakers. He reminisced with me about his youthful “serious skills” as a point guard but says at the ripe old age of 40 he only watches basketball because now “everything hurts”! J
You may be surprised to learn that Rasheed is quite the chef. I asked him what is his “go to” meal and he taught me something. He makes something called yak. For the uninformed such as myself, Yak is not a shaggy haired wild ox but a type of noodle. He seasons it with a variety of He can cook. He says his go to dish is Yak (noodles) green pepper and chicken/shrimp.
Rasheed also has his own keen sense of style. Perhaps he will tell you about his striking purple sweat suit ensemble! J
As to his future plans, Rasheed wants to be a towing business owner. He is establishing his credit now so that he can be positioned to start his business. He also would like to travel to Puerto Rico this month for his birthday and in the future visit Dubai. Other places he would like to travel to include Miami and Las Vegas.
Today’s Member spotlight is on LeRoy Ross. LeRoy will graduate from our program on May 3, 2021.
LeRoy is a relatively quiet young man. I say “relatively” because when you engage him in conversation he is quite responsive and can be quite talkative on a topic of interest to him. LeRoy, by his own admission, is a focused individual and that is why he was able to look at this program and make it work for him. LeRoy understood the key four pillars (attendance, employment, stable living, and being substance free) and with his focus he immediately implemented the four pillars into his everyday life and did not waiver. As a result, he was able to graduate from our evidenced based program in eight (8) months rather than the regular nine (9)! He was also recognized as a Role Model for the month of March, 2021 for his consistent implementation of the four pillars!
Leroy tells me he’s a deep thinker and has a big heart. But he notes, sometimes that can be good and sometimes it can be not so good. J
LeRoy has worked consistently at “ Reads to Learn Daycare” in maintenance. He told me he likes things to make sense to him and he doesn’t like change. For example, he likes to learn a job and develop his routine for the job and have that not change.
He has a great support system that consists of his mom, sister and uncles. LeRoy has a set of twin uncles on both sides of his family. One of those twin uncles taught him how to cut hair. LeRoy enjoys cutting hair and hopes to make it an entrepreneurial venture one day. His first step is to obtain his barber’s license.
In his free time, he enjoys “chilling” with his family and friends. He enjoys joking and laughing with them. He also enjoys reading mysteries and watching his favorite basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant, his favorite player. Surprisingly, he didn’t tell me like so many others that he was quite the basketball player in his youth. (I don’t know if he forgot or wasn’t claiming it. I’ll leave it to you to find out when you see him. J)
LeRoy also likes to travel. After graduation, he wants to go to Miami and spend time there with friends. You may not know it but LeRoy also raps a little. He is a fan of Fabulous and Biggy, and says his style of rap tells a story like an artist painting a picture. J (He already said he was a deep thinker.)
When I asked LeRoy why he feels now he is done with incarceration he replied he has “no love for jail. You are promised things by people [while in jail] and they don’t come through.” He also has a daughter in Minnesota who will be eight (8) on April 22. He really looks forward to getting to know her and spending time with her since he was incarcerated most of her life.
I asked him what The Wilmington Hope Commission means to him and he responded “that the HOPE Commission [provides] a chance to grow and [gain] structure. It will help you get to the place in life that you want to be. [The HOPE Commission] helps you with assistance and the counselors are more than helpful. And, [the HOPE Commission] is also a family that welcomes you with a warm heart and open arms. If you are open for change than you will achieve.”
We are proud of LeRoy and his accomplishments and expect him to continue to “achieve”. Who knows if you want a shape up or a nice cut, it just might be LeRoy or one of his staff that does it for you!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Tyaire Miller. Tyaire graduated from the Wilmington HOPE Commission’s (WHC) evidenced-based reentry program on May 17, 2021.
Tyaire describes himself as a quiet, mysterious and down to earth individual who is not easily influenced. He also used the word “heartless” to describe himself. That surprised me, so I asked him to expand upon what he meant by that term because my experience with Tyaire did not embrace this term. He explained that he used the term to define his defense mechanism of protecting his heart from others because from an early age his heart had been continually broken. Hence, now he doesn’t allow his heart to be vulnerable any longer. I thanked Tyaire for being so candid and sharing his definition of ‘heartless’.
However, when it comes to his son Zion, he is anything but “heartless”. His goal is to be a great father to Zion. He enjoys spending time with him and wants to teach him the importance of quality time versus just buying him things. He has another child on the way to whom he wants to teach the same values.
Tyaire has an amazing ability to find employment. During his time with us, whenever he found himself unemployed it didn’t take long before he found another job. (WHC would love to bottle that talent and hand it out to others we work with.) He is currently doing warehouse work through a temp agency for BMSI Moving Company. He says he is enjoying the paychecks he receives! J
When I asked Tyaire who was/is his support system because that is an important part of successful reentry, he stated that it was the staff at the HOPE Commission. He said when he really needs to talk or assistance he comes to the HOPE Commission. This is true! Tyaire pops in to see us outside of the times he is scheduled to be here with his cheerful “hello” followed by “I just wanted to see how you were doing today”. In Tyaire’s words — “ The HOPE Commission is a place that makes you feel understood [and] equal. You can always learn and share your ideas and opinions. They are there to help and go beyond for you.”
When I asked Tyaire “what motivates him to “change” now. He said he has had time to sit and think and realized he can’t get to where he wants to go without making a change. His focus is on providing for and taking care of his children and that is what motivates his change.
In addition to spending time with his family in his free time, he enjoys watching some of his favorite TV shows – Debris, Power Book, and Good Girls. Tyaire is not really into sports but loves the fine arts. He would love to produce his own beats one day. He muses that he would like to write a poem or song and put a beat to it (i.e. produce music). His future plans consist of going back to school for business administration. You may be surprised to know that Tyaire had a real interest in the being a part of the armed services if his past incarceration didn’t prevent him from doing so.
Tyaire enjoys learning new things about different cultures. He would love to visit and perhaps live in Egypt one day. His short term goals include getting his driver’s license.
We are proud of Tyaire’s accomplishments so far and look forward to his continuing successes! If you hear a poem with a nice beat that may be Tyaire!
Today’s Member spotlight is on Vincent McCants. Vincent graduated from the Wilmington HOPE Commission’s (WHC) evidenced-based reentry program on May 17, 2021.
Vincent describes himself as a polite, well rounded people person that is a good listener. He further describes himself as an understanding and confident person who gives advice but is also receptive to advice from others. Vincent is a delight to work with and ready laugh!
His favorite sport is basketball at all levels from high school to the pros. He played in his youth and humbly says he was an ‘alright player’ (i.e. he didn’t sit the bench). He doesn’t have a favorite team but he does have a favorite player – Russell Westbrook who currently plays for the Washington Wizards.
Vincent enjoys spending time with his family. He is very excited about his upcoming nuptials in June. Therefore it should be no surprise that his support system includes his fiancé, his future mother-in-law and his older brother.
In his free time, he enjoys watching the “Martin” show which he finds hilarious. He also enjoys time with his family and going out to eat. You may be surprised to know that he also loves shopping. Vincent has a giving spirit however, as he often will donate or give away to others those clothes he no longer wears. It’s a win-win! He keeps his closets from getting out of control and someone else receives a nice piece of clothing or shoes.
Vincent has been consistently employed during his time with WHC. He works for the Streets and Sewer department of the city through a temp agency. I asked him where he would like to be in five years and his response was – he would like to be hired by the city of Wilmington and happily married to his fiancé. He also wants to own his own home and travel. One place he would like to visit is Dubai.
When asked what the HOPE Commission means to him, he replied “This is a very helpful program. Whoever wants to get on the right track and stay on it, this is the place to be. The staff put[s] their all into you, especially if they see you want to do better!”
We are proud of Vincent and look forward to him achieving his five year goals! In June, he will be a married man so please be sure to congratulate Vincent on this new chapter in his life!