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Our Story

 Chief Innovative Officer



     Growing up with both parents struggling with drug addiction is super-hard.  Watching the turmoil drugs causes in your neighborhood can't compare to being confronted with it in your own home. Not understanding at the time that addiction is an illness you somehow began to feel like you're the cause. Like, if only you were enough, your parents would stop using drugs and get themselves together. You start to feel helpless wondering when? What? Where? And how will this epidemic play out... Meanwhile, your left feeling distraught and full of sorrow.  In addition to the struggles drug addiction, my father was in and out of prison from the time I was born up until a few years ago.

     Consequently, my mom tried to overcompensate for his absence. However, she was still struggling with her own addiction. As a result, I was a kid walking around with the heaviness and fear of losing them both. There was just some type of void and emptiness deep inside because as a child, all you want is for your mother and father to be around.  Subsequently, I got into a lot of fights in school and became labeled a troubled youth.  Even though I never acknowledged it, that anger and aggression ultimately led to me being suspended from each and every school I ever attended to include elementary, middle and high school.

     However, God gave me two supportive grandmothers who assisted my parents with me.  As time went on, God began to place a few great mentors in my life, who not only took me by the hand and guided me in the right direction but inevitably changed my life for the better.  Due to their sacrifices, I graduated from high school on the Dean’s List and went on to obtain my Bachelor’s and Master's degrees. Thankfully, my parents are doing well today. My father is a successful entrepreneur and has been drug and alcohol free for 18 years.  My mother is retired and has been clean for a little over 15 years.

     Because of the guidance and mentorship from my support system, since 2009, I have worked with over 300 youth throughout the City of Baltimore. However, the defining moment in my career was in 2012, when I started working with youth from the Department of Juvenile Services.  The young people all had gotten themselves into some type of trouble which ultimately landed them into a program called DJS Corps. Therefore, they were mandated to complete my career readiness program. These young people were written off by many, but thankfully, I was just what they needed to push forward and persevere, and at the same time, they were definitely what I needed to realize my passion for training and mentoring.

     The training sessions went very well, and the students continuously expressed their likeness to the program.  The program statistically improved from the time the agency brought me on board. Though the training sessions went well, the program abruptly came to an end in late 2013, and I saw so many of my youth go through an array of emotions. They were sad, angry, and most of all disappointed. There was a time when one of my students left the classroom, and immediately afterward, I realized he left his glasses behind. I hurried up and jumped in my car, and caught up to him a few blocks down. I asked him if he forgot something; he looked at me with pure sadness and said to me, "how'd you know how to find me?" I told him to jump in, and I took him to his bus. While in the car, I asked him how he was feeling, and his answer shook me to my core. He said, "What am I going to do? I've never been consistent with anything else in my life."

     At that moment, I realized that I had to create a program that embodied mentorship, education, and a haven.  I regret to inform you that he was murdered four years later at the age of 20. Another one of my youths was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and that same year another one of my youths was killed. I strive to be that "great" mentor for other youth because my mentors believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself and I must pay it forward.  My belief is, sometimes you have to breathe life into others until they get enough wind to believe in themselves. Mario's song "Do Right" is a true testament to the pain felt by youth when their parents suffer from any addiction.  Today, our youth don't see enough successful examples in their neighborhoods of people who look like them, come from where they come from, and understand their everyday struggles. So, to fill that gap, I have dedicated my life to supporting our youth like so many others have supported me. Thank you for visiting!!!

P.S. I would be re-missed if I didn't say thank you to Mario for being so open about his story because it gave me the courage to do the same. Mario and his Mom, Ms. Shawn,  are both from Baltimore. To that end, I want to say R.I.P  to Ms. Shawn! You were a beautiful woman inside & out; I am glad that I could meet you! 
Mario - Do Right

Mario - Do Right

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