from Mentee to Mentor
"There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." –Booker T. Washington
MY EARLY YEARS
I was born into a family of entrepreneurs. My parents ran a successful record store and showed me the value of neighborhood development and community connection. I consider them my early mentors.
I attended Edison and East high schools and was a young dad while at Monroe Community College. As my family grew my drive of wanting to provide beyond my current means brought about many choices; some good and some, ”What was I thinking?” Understanding lack of exposure to choices young people have, I began working with city neighborhoods, community groups, and businesses to help create employment and mentorship for youth.
working with youth
Today I strive to be a mentor and create new role models. As a mentor and artist I have been able to invest in our Rochester City School District students, taking them from Rochester to Philadelphia—and to Brazil—working to paint murals in underserved neighborhoods. Together we were featured in the Emmy nominated documentary film by Blue Sky Project Films that highlights the positive impact of mentorship.
The work I have been a part of as Public Art Coordinator for the City of Rochester, gallery director and curator has shown me the strength of collaborative connections. Community partnerships have led me to be podcasted, televised, and awarded for my long standing commitment to the community. These endeavors have shown me the promise of a culturally rich Rochester.
The most progressive movements for change are started by bringing people from different backgrounds together.
My collaborative relationships include: The Open Door Mission, Greentopia, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Baobab Cultural Center, Chabad House of U of R, Rochester City School District, and the Rochester Public Library.
I was also a founding member of Fashion Week of Rochester, the largest fundraiser for the Center for Youth, and a founding board member of MuCCC (Multi-use Cultural Community Center) building collaboration, innovation and social change.
My enthusiasm for our city and connection to my fellow Rochesterians can be seen in this fun piece of history.