On Saturday, December 15, 2018, our founder and executive director Donovan Forrest had the unique opportunity to speak to middle-school students at Junior Youth Action, Inc's Saturday program at the University of Pennsylvania. During the discussion, Forrest described the social problems that fuel the work of DonCARES of Philadelphia, Inc. Mentors.
Earlier that week, Brianna Morales, a program director at Philadelphia Youth Action, Inc, asked Forrest to come in and speak to her students. What he expected was far from a daunting task.
"When Brianna initially told me she had a question for me I immediately thought: speaking engagement. and before we even got on the phone to discuss it, my answer was a yes." Forrest who usually speaks to high school students was even more thrilled to talk to middle-schoolers about social problems and service. At the beginning of his presentation, Forrest defined social problems for the students: "To me, social problems are a factor or phenomena that disrupt peace and harmony." Poverty, violence, and inequality are all forms of social problems.
The social problems that drive our work at DonCARES are lack of representation in education and juvenile justice. Unsurprisingly, the middle-school students seem to catch on. The students who are part of Philadelphia Youth Action, Inc. are working on service projects and were curious where to start.
Towards the end of his conversation with the students, Forrest was asked a montage of questions ranging from what inspired his founding of his non-profit, what he would do if he didn't found his own organization, and how they could start their own business.
Forrest who describes himself as an avid reader suggested a poetry and fiction books for middle-schoolers interested in starting their own businesses. "It may be weird that I'm suggesting poetry and books like Harry Potter to you. However, they are books that can inspire creativity and it takes creativity to start a business. Then when you get an idea just go out there and execute it. Don't worry about how to do it, just believe you can and you will be surprised who will reach out to support you." Forrest stated.
Although DonCARES has slowed down programming for the year, Forrest is excited for 2019. We have a lot of programs in the works that are kids will enjoy. We had a great year, now it's time to let it sink in that we've helped so many kids. Philanthropy is a people-centered endeavor and when you have kids coming up to you with big smiles on their faces, eager about the next program we're going to have. I believe we've made a big difference." Forrest says.