Modeling Manhood in the Inner City

Jeremiah grew up in the Woodlawn community as the youngest of 4 siblings.  His mother raised him and he credits her as being the consistent stability in his life.  Because of the potential perils of the community, he wasn’t allowed to play outside often.  He would attend school and the Parks and Recreation Summer Camps, but finally, as a freshman in high school, his mother allowed him to attend Sunshine’s programming.  A friend had invited him and he became involved in the basketball program and High School program.

“Early on, I saw leaders at Sunshine modeling vulnerability and authenticity, something that hadn’t been shown to me before in my community,”  Jeremiah explains that often the model for black men is to be tough, don’t show your emotions (except anger), don’t let people become close to you, and don’t be vulnerable.  Through developing relationships with Sunshine staff, he began to grow in his relationship with Christ and what it means to be a follower of Christ. He credits Donnell Williams for mentoring him in sports as well as life choices. He credits Pete Blodgett for mentoring him spiritually and deepening his knowledge of scripture.  He credits Arnold Sojourner for guiding him in his school and career choices. And he currently views Chuck Harris as his mentor.

For the past year, he has been working for Sunshine’s elementary after-school program while also attending local Harold Washington College studying Sports Management. He looks to Harris, one of the directors of the program, to mentor him and encourage him in his career path as well as his current job position working with the youth. He sees the young boys looking up to Chuck and the wisdom, patience, and energy that Chuck brings to the program. “I am always listening to the mentors in my life and trying to really take in the advice and counsel they give me because I know they come from experience,” Jeremiah says.  Chuck adds, “We’re really excited to see how much Jeremiah has grown and the influence he has on the kids in the program, having also grown up in the community and being a role model for them.”