Impacting the lives of youths and young
adults to bring out their full potential.
PURPOSE DRIVEN AMBASSADOR
God’s Royal Priesthood set apart for a special assignment.
Doing good in the community and giving the gift of her infectious
love as caretaker, leader , teacher and impressive mentor to all.
My blinged out cell phone with silver, black, pink and purple diamond-like stones sprinkled all over it (“Housewives of New Jersey” ‘s Teresa Giudice, you have nothing on my cell) started beeping at 3 p.m. I had programmed it earlier to go off one hour before my interview with an awesome community caretaker and well-respected mentor, Marcia Brown. The interview was scheduled for 4:30 p.m., but I wanted an early reminder to make sure I arrived on time and, of course, excited to meet Marcia. Marcia Brown is an assiduous counselor, teacher and friend who does a lot in the community for youths and teenagers.
I arrived thirty minutes early in the area in which the interview was to take place. Thirty minutes early and everything is going strictly according to plan, I thought. Seeing that I had some time to kill I decided to get a quick bite to eat—my stomach was not at all embarrassed by the growling sounds it made and needed no permission to let me know that I had to eat. I obeyed and found myself pulling into a fast food joint and ordering something quick, light and healthy. I did not want to be late so I wolfed down my snack and headed towards the middle school
My GPS was on while I was driving and did a great job keeping me on track—I am being sarcastic here as you will see…keep reading. I now know that I was literally five minutes away from my destination, but at the time I believed Emily who told me something different (by the way, my GPS’ name is Emily). Anyway, Emily said, “Turn right in 900 metres,” which meant I was to turn right two streets directly past my destination, the school! I was compliant and drove in the direction Emily told me then made a right turn. I was driving for about five minutes when I thought to myself that something did not seem right. I know Emily was trying her darndest to provide the fastest and most convenient way to get to the school, but I began to think she was a bit off as I am somewhat familiar with the area. To make a long story short, Emily took me on a wild goose chase and I eventually had to call Marcia to find the exact location of the school.
After I had spoken with Marcia, I navigated my way back to the school—the same school that Emily instructed me to pass earlier. Rushing to get inside, I was now 30 minutes late, the complete opposite of what I planned—it was entirely Emily’s fault, of course, but I could not tell anyone that she made me late because, yeah, you guessed it, they would think I was cuckoo. Panting as I made my way towards the front entrance of the school, I passed several youths who were exiting the school. Some of them looked at me a bit funny, probably because I was winded from rushing to get inside. You might ask, “Breathless? Why would someone be out of breath simply from briskly walking from the parking lot to the entrance of a school?” Well, I am glad for this question and am happy to oblige with an answer. You see, the school’s parking lot was not as close to the school entrance as you would think. In fact, it was a bit of a walk and anyone would pant while rushing or running to get inside, so there. When I finally reached the school entrance, I saw Marcia standing patiently inside, behind the blue double doors, looking out for me, I presumed. I opened one of the heavy doors and said hello to Marcia whose face wore a big smile. “I was waiting here to make sure you found it okay,” she said. I answered, “Yes, after my wild goose chase, I found it.” We both smiled. “Come,” she said, “and I will show you where we hold the sessions.” I followed along as she willingly led the way.
Marcia Brown is the personification of warmth with an agreeable friendliness and kindness that exudes from her presence. She is all smiles with a glowing effect produced by her ardor, intensity and affection. Marcia’s remarkable community involvement and many efforts have made her a three-time award recipient. In May 2011, she received a Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence for Excellent Support Staff from Dalton McGuinty. In June 2011, she received an Urban Hero Award for Education from the Etobicoke Guardian and in December 2011, she was the recipient of the Aroni Award for Education.
Marcia is the founder and president of Trust 15 where ‘trust’ means to build up a level of trust for one another and ’15′ means family. Trust 15, spearheads two weekly programs for inner-city youths and teenagers. The first is called Ladies on the Rise where weekly mentoring sessions are held for female youths and teenagers 13–18 years of age. The second is Men of Distinction (MOD), a program for males ages 14–20. There are 36 girls registered in Trust 15 and 33 young men who make up Men of Distinction.
Trust 15’s mission is to save as many youths and teenagers as possible from making the wrong choices especially with the level of peer pressure in today’s society. Counseling is provided privately for anyone who wishes to talk about personal things that may be difficult to talk about with others. The program encourages and motivates youths and teenagers to go after their dreams, goals and aspirations. With steady mentoring they are directed to the right path to attain those dreams, goals and aspirations. The weekly sessions also provide educational advice to help youths and teenagers make it through life. In each session, they freely talk and ask questions about anything and are allowed to be their authentic selves. The environment is a place in which all can contentedly express themselves without feeling alienated, uncomfortable or ridiculed. Many participants find it therapeutic just to be able to talk amongst this family, which is how they see themselves, bonded like a tight-knit family.
Men of Distinction is made up of teenage boys and young adults who have no father figure, feel discouraged from attending school as they believe there is lack of support with school work from teachers and guidance councilors and often feel misunderstood by authority figures such as police. “These are boys whose issues and/or behaviors no one has had the tolerance and patience to handle,” says Marcia. As a result they pose a no-care attitude to hide their many emotions and mask their feelings, a coping mechanism for many. Through care and genuine love MOD invites mentors and great community leaders like Kevin Williams, CEO of General Motors Canada, and Chris Spence, Director of the Toronto District School Board, to encourage the young men to stay in school, to excel in all subjects and not to become a statistic. The mentors and leaders often engage in lengthy conversations with the young men whereby they talk about the issues they may be facing. During their talks they are encourage to stay on a straight and narrow path. Men of Distinction also volunteer in the community at nursing homes and in soup kitchens as giving back to the community gives them a sense of responsibility.
Marcia introduced me to the swarm of beautiful girls whose high pitched voices and cackles filled the air of the large stage-like space. There were at least 27 energetic young ladies chit-chatting and laughing and more were still trickling in. Marcia said, “Everyone, this is Simone.” I said hello to the girls who had curious looks on their faces that I understood to mean, “Who is she?” The multitude of girls all responded by saying hi in key at the same time. Marcia told me to have a seat on one of the chairs in the already prepared circle as she walked away to help get things organized as the session was about to start. So I made my way over to one side of the room and sat down beside two bubbly girls having a good time as they talked between themselves. I then sat back and scoped out the scene watching the giddy and jovial teenage girls of different races, ages and personalities who all had one common interest, Trust 15. It was certain they enjoyed being there.
All the girls looked so cute and trendy wearing thigh-high boots with matching leather coats, tights with well coordinated tops and the famous Uggs that everyone and their grandma seem to be wearing these days. Their hair was nicely styled—one girl had her hair in a layered coif similar to the late bombshell and famous American actress Farrah Fawcett. I even complimented her on how nice it looked; she was pleased. They continued to laugh, chit-chat, tell each other stories and goof around; some were texting and BBMing, and Marcia, well, she was right in there like a dirty shirt also chatting it up and laughing as she prepared some snacks. In other words, she blended in with the bevy of girls so well that an outsider would not be able to tell if she was the head of Trust 15 or just one of the girls who attended the program. I believe that one of the many reasons the girls attend the sessions is because they get along so well with each other. Another reason why they enjoy being a part of the program is that Marcia is so easy to talk to, easy going, attentive and respectful that they love her something terrible. It was quite a scene looking in from the outside and it brought a smile to my face as I, just for a quick moment, reminisced about my pre-teen years, hanging out with my then BFF Margaret—they were truly the best years.
“Okay, everyone, we should get started,” I heard Marcia say. I then heard her say as she walked over to me, “Oh, no, you are not going to sit so far away. You will sit at the front; you are one of the family.” I was hoping I could stay low key by just listening and taking notes, but I guess that wasn’t to be the case; Marcia saw to that. One of the presenters who was invited to speak to the girls was Nneka Elliot, a former weather anchor, reporter and traffic specialist at CablePulse24 (CP24). The 5’7” vivacious beauty, a natural speaker, talked about her dreams, aspirations and taking risks to achieve her many goals. In speaking she emphasized the importance of never giving up on your dreams and always being persistent and staying focused even if people say you will not make it.
Nneka spoke about her resignation from the news channel CP24 after almost three years to start her own media skills development company called The Media Huddle. She said that there were people who thought she was crazy to leave CP24 but she was never one to pass up a challenge, “It is what drives me as a person, always in pursuit of a challenge.” Before landing the job as a weather anchor she told a story of her mantra, “Fake it till you make it.” The girls listened keenly and with great interest when Nneka told them that even though she had never worked in front of a camera she was determined to secure a job at CP24 so she prepared herself for it. In preparing, she would watch and mimic weather anchors’ hand motions when forecasting the weather in front of a weather map illustrating current conditions; the way they would make hand motions indicating, for example, high pressure dominating a certain city. She swooped her hand up and made a circle the same way the weather anchors do to illustrate high arctic air bringing in cold temperatures; the hand motion she had mastered made all the girls laugh. “All the moves they did, I did. You could not tell the difference between the real CP24 weather anchor and me, the girl who had no on-camera experience. That’s how bad I wanted to attain that goal and it played an important part in landing that job.”
The session lasted about two-and-a-half hours but some of the girls hung around a bit longer to talk with each other. I sat with Marcia for a few more minutes to gain more insight into the two wonderful programs she orchestrates. Marcia spoke with passion about Trust 15 and Men of Distinction and her very optimistic outlook on the programs’ bright futures. It was then that one of the girls shouted happily from across the room, “Miss, Miss, I did well at my dance audition.” “That’s awesome, excellent!” Marcia shouted back. Marcia then revealed that this particular girl is an extremely talented dancer who is aspiring to become a professional dancer. She added that some of the girls aspire to become actresses, writers, journalists and singers and there are currently a few who are attending university.
Marcia Brown is a purpose-driven woman whom the community salutes for her unconditional love, priceless time and exemplary efforts given to the many precious male and female youths and teenagers she has treasured and believed in. She sees the best in them and has helped them to recognize this in order to bring out their potential. It is without a shadow of a doubt that she was not chosen by coincidence but was predestined by God. Anyone who knows about God knows that He is not a God of mistakes, He is a God of destiny, and Marcia is indubitably carrying out her God-given destiny.