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Who Charlotte Knows ... Life Changers of Our City's Life Changers

Written by Addie Rising    on August 11, 2017    in
In August, SHARE Charlotte will continue looking at the recent findings of the Opportunity Task Force by exploring the nonprofits invested in creating networking, growth and mentorship opportunities for kids and teens. We’ve also asked Charlotteans the question, “who is the person that changed your trajectory?” We’ll be sharing these stories and we encourage you to share yours
David Jessup
“The person who changed the trajectory of my life was a 5th grader I taught my first year as a @TeachForAmerica corps member. In 2009, Mashika reaffirmed my belief that every child can succeed if given the resources to do so. In June, I watched this young lady receive her high school diploma, graduating with honors. It's because of Mashika that I've dedicated my life to leveling the educational playing field.”

David Jessup
“An avid lover and ‘liver’ of art and creative expression, I pride myself in providing platforms and opportunities for a diverse audience of creatives — serving as their ‘yes,’ and, oftentimes, becoming their ‘big break’ into the cultural scene that Charlotte offers. I do it because it’s needed. I do it because Charlotte has a tremendous pool of talented individuals who need an outlet and I do it, most importantly, because my brother, Dion Galloway, did it for me. Most comfortable behind the scenes, Dion is often seen and not heard, but provided a loud and resounding ‘yes’ to me, several years before. An unsung hero, at a time when I needed art the most, he allowed me to dive into it, wholeheartedly — without suffocating parameters and critiques — and, as a result, Dupp & Swat was created. Essentially, he said, ‘Yes, Davita, go and create. Go and figure this ‘art thing’ out. Go and experience. Go, learn and don’t worry, I’ll be right here to accompany you on the journey.’ He probably doesn’t know it, but that day he changed the trajectory of my life — saving it, actually. So as a way to pay homage and honor him for allowing me to do what I love, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to be able to provide the same opportunities for those who, like me, can’t live without creating. It feels great to be in the business of saying, ‘Yes’!”

Davita Galloway
Foundation for Girls is a youth led social venture to impact social change in our community. "Our three tenets are access to opportunities, caring coaches and scaffolding for success for at-risk children and youth. We believe that to change the trajectory of a child or youth, one needs a caring coach who is committed, passionate and consistent. We want to share our social capital, networks and values with the children and youth of Charlotte."

Shreya Mantha (16) and Sahana Mantha (11)
"I came to Charlotte in 1995 to further my corporate career with a national hotel chain, and to start my family. My desire to engage the community through volunteer service and empowerment was fueled with my first volunteer work at a local nonprofit serving at-risk children and youth living in West Charlotte. It was there I was introduced to Pastor Eric Chisholm. He was the visionary behind the mission to take a life-transforming message to children and youth in the most distressed communities. He was a passionate and charismatic leader and I was amazed at his ability to connect with the children and youth. Though he was a dear friend for many years, he also served as my mentor. He allowed me to tag along during many outreach events into the most troubled neighborhoods and I soon learned many of the qualities of great mentors and community leaders from his example. Much of the work I am privileged to do in the community, to mentor hundreds of young men, is the result of his bold example and fearless leadership!"

Colin Pinkney, Executive Director of The Harvest Center of Charlotte
"I’d like to think in helping dozens of young teen girls who have passed through Girl Talk, that I've impacted them in some way. One such example is Cierra Ivey - who came to Girl Talk when she was 12 years old, shy and unsure of herself, like most girls that age. Today, I marvel at her! She and I recently connected so she could catch me up on where she is in life. She's currently a sophomore at my alma mater N.C. A&T State University, studying in the same major I studied — Mass Communications. And she's ACTIVE and involved! She's secretary of the professional organization National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and even works for the campus news show. As I write this, I get full in realizing what a true transformation she's made. She is a shining example of why I stay up late working on programs and strategy for Girl Talk, to actually see the seed we plant come to fruition. I feel blessed!"

Janine Davis, Founder, Girl Talk Foundation
"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Census Population (1850-2000), since 1970, the foreign-born population has continued to grow in size and represents approximately 12.9 percent of the total U.S. population. Consequently, I believe that there is a need for culturally-sensitive counseling among minorities, and that accessible, bilingual professionals with deep knowledge of the needs of immigrant communities are much-needed. For instance, researchers have found that some minority groups (African-American, Asian-American and Latino-American) are more likely to refrain from asking for psychological help, because of the belief that others are judging them negatively when they seek treatment. (Cheng, Kwan & Sevig, 2013). Therefore, It is my desire to serve the Hispanic community with my clinical social work skills in the future. A minority member, who is culturally-sensitive, bilingual, and knowledgeable of the difficulties of their acculturation, their socioeconomic, political and social environment could help individuals from this community increase their health literacy in general while feeling accepted and supported."

Jimena Watts, BA, and proud candidate of a Master’s in Social Work at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Kirstin Garriss "One person who changed the trajectory of my life is Michael Walpole, my broadcasting teacher at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. Growing up, I loved animals (and I still do) and ever since I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, in the 11th grade, I took Broadcast 101. At first, it was one of those fun classes you take to break up the load of AP and honors classes on your plate. But then after learning how to use the cameras, how to write scripts and hearing all these stories about the business from Mr. Walpole, I realized I might have a new love. And trust me, Mr. Walpole didn't sugarcoat ANYTHING. He warned us this would be a tough business with low pay and crazy hours, but he said if you truly loved it, you could make it. Two classes later, Mr. Walpole told me, I had what it took to make it in this business and asked me if I would be interested in going to a job-shadowing day at WRAL in Raleigh. Ironically, it was during that job-shadowing day where I met my mentor Ken Smith and now the rest is history. Sometimes we don't realize the impact a teacher can have in our lives and in my case, it was one teacher who changed my life forever."

Kirstin Garriss, government reporter at Spectrum News NC
Katie Toussaint "Paige Roselle, local philanthropist and the former co-owner/publisher of SOCIETY Charlotte Magazine. The monthly publication highlighted Charlotte philanthropy and events, and I'm not sure I ever would have moved back to Charlotte from Charleston if Paige hadn't tapped me on the shoulder with a job offer to become editor of the magazine. She's the reason I fell back in love with the Charlotte writing scene, working with SOCIETY for two years, and now CharlotteFive/the Observer for more than two years. I'm still here."

Katie Toussaint, Editor, CharlotteFive