"It takes a village to raise a child.” -Everyone’s Older Somebody
What if someone forced you to gamble on the likelihood of success for a young black man who had a mother that was debilitated by a mental illness, a father that was away for months at a time working as a truck driver, confronted by gang culture, and had problems making it to school?
Would you put your money on his success? No, probably not. Well, that young man is me.
Growing up, I navigated so much trauma that it became a way of life to me. I was able to survive its brutality and make it safely to the other side of life. Surviving it was a difficult thing to do. I had to face many challenges along the way. And oftentimes my life was more messy than fair.
In hindsight, I was just going through the motions in life when I was younger (tuning it all out) and I even found myself being penalized by a magistrate judge for truancy when I was about 14 years old. With my dad out busy working to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes for us to wear, my mother's debilitating mental health left her unavailable to our family. In my father's absence, I found myself responsible for making household grocery trips at 2 AM. With the family responsibility I had while my father was away, I often found myself choosing between those responsibilities and going to school.
Well, there was no way that I was going to let my dad, my mother and family down, so most days I chose my family over school. I only chose school on the days I felt safe from gang violence and when I thought I could handle my family responsibilities as well as the classroom.
I needed help.
Those are parts of me that the judge failed to comprehend due to a lack of empathy and interest. The community knew our struggle because the community is family whether we like it or not. And our judicial system did not feel like any part of our family. This still stands true today.
I was fortunate enough to make it through my childhood experiences because of the help I received from a strong support system.
But what about my peers? What about those in similar situations that didn’t have the luxury of support? In my opinion, I won’t be successful until I’m doing my part for the community.
I learned the importance of community and having a village. However, I argue that your village owes more than your child years because you’ll be paying it forward next. This campaign is about establishing continuity and really knowing our community so it’s future can be successful and not just kinda. #ForTheNorth
Jehosha Wright is a Counselor, Lifestyle Health Coach, and Candidate for Magisterial District Judge on the lower Northside. His experience of growing up in Manchester and learning in challenging public school settings motivated him to be successful. Since 2012, he has been intentional in his efforts to fill his experiences with continued education and opportunities to grow as a leader. Jehosha has been recognized for his leadership contributions at Carlow University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. He was a driving force in the University’s efforts to diversify the growing student population. Jehosha went on to obtain his Master’s degree for Clinical Mental Health Counseling as a means to strengthen his altruistic approach to leadership. He is now a Health Coach with UPMC where he uses his counseling skill set to encourage members to make lifestyle changes that improve their overall health and wellness.
As a young professional, Jehosha was introduced to Pittsburgh’s philanthropic landscape in 2015 with The Door Campaign. He spent his time there assisting with the development of the 2020 Vision Program where they developed a STEM curriculum for both Pittsburgh Public and Charter Schools. Jehosha served as a Community Outreach Specialist for Fineview and Perry Hilltop Citizen’s Council. During his time with the Citizen’s Council, he was able to help the organization craft a youth development program that taught students of Perry High School about community leadership. However, Jehosha’s desire to influence change in the political realm was fortified through his experience working as a drug and alcohol therapist at an alternative correctional facility. He found that his role as therapist was reactionary which was part of the problem at large. Jehosha used that experience as an impetus to fuel his desire for proactive leadership.