Baltimore Homecoming Hero Semi-finalist

Back in 2012, I set out to make a difference and provide Baltimore City youth in my community with access to a quality education as well as the resources and opportunities needed to achieve success. Never once did I think about making money for myself or receiving accolades. It was all about paying it forward since I had received so much support after my injury. The thought of being in the spotlight was also never a thought. In fact, for years I tried to find ways to not be the face of the foundation. However, despite my efforts, it seemed like the more I tried to avoid it, the more I was thrown in front of a camera. This may be hard to believe if you follow my social media, but I’m an introvert and I use to be terrified of public speaking. Nevertheless, I made a commitment to overcome my fears and do whatever it would take to help my students. If that meant living in the spotlight to bring attention, resources, and opportunities to them then so be it. After all, everything I do is for them.

Over the past 7 years, SAFE has received accolade after accolade, which all brought awareness to the work I was doing serving our youth in Baltimore City. Out of everything SAFE received, the Presidential Community Service Volunteer Award from President Obama’s administration was the one I was most proud of. Regardless of the negative headlines that splattered the news daily, President Obama’s administration took the time to recognize and highlight a few Baltimoreans that are on the ground working tirelessly around the clock to solve our city’s issues.

Now, I told myself I wasn’t going to comment on what the current “leader” of the US expressed about Baltimore. However, writing this I couldn’t resist. Yes, Baltimore has its issues with crime and drugs but name a place that doesn’t. It’s irritating that majority of the critics who complain and talk negatively are never the ones in the arena fighting or proposing solutions for change. Theodore Roosevelt said it perfectly, “it is not the critic who count; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.

To that point, l’m highlighting an organization called Baltimore Homecoming that is working to support and elevate “Baltimore’s most accomplished native and alumni from around the US and the world.” The homecoming network gathers to “meet the city’s next generation of innovators, artist, activist and community leaders; to reawaken and deepen our personal ties to the city; and to spark new partnerships, investments and collaborations.

I’ve been honored to have been nominated and voted on by my peers as one of ten semi-finalists for the Baltimore Homecoming Hero Award. The "Homecoming Hero voting is live now through 8/15. Five winners will be selected to win a $3,000 cash prize, a chance to speak on stage in October, and the opportunity to participate in presenting sponsor T. Rowe Price Foundation’s capacity building program. Cast your vote now

As I mentioned above, everything I do is for the betterment of my students. By voting for me you are getting in the arena and being a part of the solution. You’re helping me continue providing my students with the necessities needed to be Baltimore’s future leaders and change agents.

Lesson of the blog:

Don’t sit on the sideline and criticize the men and women in the arena working to make a difference regardless if you agree with their tactics or not. If you are going to sit on the sideline at least be a cheerleader. It cost absolutely nothing to provide words of encouragement, to acknowledge someone for their efforts, or to be an advocate for their work. If you are going to criticize make it constructive and provide advice and support to aid in the solution. As you see from the opportunity above, a simple vote can make a huge difference for the organizations and individuals working to make a difference. Use your voice, time, and skills for good use and be a part of the solution. Don’t be a vehicle for negativity and hate.