Right now, at EYEJ, we are strengthening ourselves in order to prepare for growth and the future. For me as Founder and Executive Director it is a time and space to […]
Right now, at EYEJ, we are strengthening ourselves in order to prepare for growth and the future. For me as Founder and Executive Director it is a time and space to reflect, to prepare, for love and growth in order for me to lead the organization in the right path moving forward.
With that being said, what I have realized time and time again, is the strength of women. We have a brand-new Chairwoman, Symone McClain, who for the first time throughout my time with EYEJ, I have had complete peace, trust and yes relinquishing of control. This is necessary for the growth of EYEJ. Furthermore, I am amazed every single day working with her. Her strength, her eagerness for empowerment and success, her gentle, kind, patient and quick understanding of EYEJ. Specifically, her “no fear” attitude and up for the challenge delight. She is a true blessing. She already in this short time, has helped to shape, build strength and understanding, while at the same time be respectful and compassionate of the history and people that surround EYEJ. Symone has over 20 years of philanthropic experience working at multiple foundations including but not limited too: the O’Neill Foundation, Nordson Foundation and Cleveland Foundation. Her wealth of expertise is invaluable AND she is an incredible leader. I am blown away and grateful.
People. These last couple of months, I have been blessed with people really stepping up to the plate to empower EYEJ, and focus on the impact it makes therefore supporting and uplifting our youth we serve.
We are already successful.
Reflection. In this period at EYEJ, I think about what makes EYEJ, why did I create EYEJ, how do I have the expertise to do this work, why have I been blessed to do this work, etc. There are many reasons. I myself grew up in Cleveland Heights in a culture of at a young age, we were individuals. I did not look at the color of ones skin, or social-economic background. I looked at who you were as a human, what were you into, what were your goals, passions, dreams etc. I’ve been privileged to travel and live around the world. On my dad’s side of the family, I am the oldest of all of my cousins, and then really the closest link in age to my uncle’s (I have 4 on my dad’s side) who are all very successful. Therefore, a bridge, a connector, a middleman of sorts, understanding the cultural differences in age, personalities, dynamics and a responsibility of passing of history. This is not always a glamorous position to be in because sometimes being in the middle also means that people don’t identify and/or you are left making decisions that are hard and lonely. A father who (Caucasian) was rebellious, adventurous, loved love and learning about the world, who taught me to be real, who told me to watch groundbreaking movies to learn about culture i.e. Boys in the Hood and Kids as an example. He understood the struggle of being poor while dealing with brothers that were entitled, privileged and powerful – a Connector of sorts between social-economic statuses.
My mother on the other hand, a very successful violinist who gave 32 years of her life to the Cleveland Orchestra and sees people for their human qualities rather than what society sees them as. A person who was a groundbreaker for her country, Japan, who at age 13 left home, to move to a bigger city to study violin (which her mother pushed her to do because she saw her talent) who came to the United States when she was 28 to be a Violinist (absolutely unheard of at the time) and barely spoke English. Who as a woman was the 2nd Chair in the Cleveland Orchestra (Assistant Concertmaster) having the respect and to be a support to the Conductor, and Principal dealing with great deals of politics – a Connector, a groundbreaker, a leader, a bridge to the players of the orchestra, the Conductor and management who navigated very difficult situations including a #MeToo situation in a different light not as the victim, but as a partner for years, the Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. These experiences, learning’s and teachings which have been passed down to me having a passion for love, truth and for seeing people who they really are (underneath the layers, issues, problems, scars, marks etc.). Seeing that people really have been underserved in an unacceptable way, and for us as humans to now allow for human beings to be their true authentic selves, for some to be wrapped in toxic stress, in an environment that is negative and cyclical with no way to get out, and to have passions and wants and desires that are trapped and to be NOT treated as human beings, we really should be ashamed of ourselves. BUT we as humans have the power, the resources, the expertise, the desire and the capability for change. This is our entire quest, right? As we are constantly changing, evolving, growing, etc. We have the chance to empower, uplift, to build equity, to do right! Why? To create peace, joy, happiness, love! Really, isn’t this the truth of life? You can still be in power, you can still be in control and be respectful to humans.
So, I share this small nugget with you today of why I do this work. Why this work is so important. Why we have the power and capability to do what is right. We are all human. We have the duty and responsibility to do what is right, and the door is WIDE OPEN right now to do so. We all have scars, marks, fears, issues…get humble. Let’s create social justice TOGETHER.
I thank and ask for your continued support for EYEJ. It has been an incredible ride, with so many people to thank (my full list will be shared soon on our web site), because it is the PEOPLE that make EYEJ happen. It is the PEOPLE that make impact with our youth. It is the PEOPLE that empower our youth. We are all responsible.
I am not an Expert, I am just human.
Founder and Executive Director to EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice