I was born and raised in West Philadelphia. I’m a scholar, my focus is learning. I always want to learn more, but I also want to teach. My passion is for helping people and sustaining the environment around me for the future, which is technically our children.
When were you in PowerCorpsPHL?
I was in Cohort 4 on Mr. Drew’s Dark Matter crew. Now I’m in Cohort 5 as Assistant Crew Leader for Mr. Drew’s Black Ops squad.
I’m Assistant Crew Leader (ACL) for Mr. Drew. When I was in Cohort 4 we talked about ACL and Associate Crew Leader a lot. I jokingly talked about being ACL or Associate; I didn’t see myself as ACL. But when it came time to apply, Mr. Drew, then ACL Kalef, and my man Meliek brought it to my attention that it’s an opportunity. So I went with it and applied. I had actually just asked Mr. Drew to be a reference for a different job right before I found out I got ACL. I was very surprised when I found out I got ACL.
Being ACL is good experience, as far as growth and mentorship. Not only are you a mentor to the crew members, but you’re a mentee to your Crew Leader and PowerCorpsPHL staff. As an ACL, I don’t wake up and come to work for myself anymore. I do it for my team. I’m always talking to them about their life, checking in. I make sure outside forces aren’t taking them off their course of change. For me, in the first half it was hard to find a comfortable identity of myself when I approached my crew. I thought I had to be a completely different person, stern etc. But I figured out I should relax and be myself. I don’t see myself as a supervisor or leader of the crew, I’m more interested in peer leadership. I’m a tool for my team to implement. I enjoyed coaching and bonding with the team. Now we’re at the end of the cohort and I can actually see the change in the members: in their mindset and how to go about things, in their priorities, in the crowd they want to be around. Being able to know I was part of that influence excites me and makes me want to own ACL more.
I’m interested in furthering my education. I’ve done many trainings and received certifications. I took the Tree Tenders class and received my certification. I took a Nature RX training about prescribing nature to people dealing with certain health issues (ex. Asthma, obesity). I received the PHL Welcomes You certification. This was led by Temple Customer Service and was about how to treat a customer or a person visiting. I received my Waders in the Water: Wetland Restoration certification. I participated in a Green Roofs training. I received my OSHA 10 certification. I went through De-escalation training before becoming ACL.
I’m also currently studying to be a better manager or supervisor according to the National Corporation of Community Service standards. I’m active in local community food banks and am trying to start a community garden in my neighborhood. I also am working with Daniel Lawson, Parks & Rec Project Coordinator for PowerCorpsPHL, to form a Friends of Carroll Park.
I enlisted in the National Guard in my senior year of high school, 2012. I’m a Fire Support Specialist in the Pennsylvania National Guard. I direct fire for artillery and drive a Striker (which is a 52,000 lb., 8-wheel vehicle, it’s a monster). I set up and use radio communication. I do land navigation, which means a lot of walking and mapping out terrain. In high school I had aspirations to become a government agent, but I also wanted to go to school for civil engineering. I talked it over with my mentors and JROTC and enlisted in the National Guard. My service ends in September of this year. I’m considering re-enlisting; it depends on whether I’m on track with my goals.
There are few things that motivate me. Number 1 is my passion for growth and progression. I always need to be moving forward. Next is my grandmother and mother. My grandmother always protected me. My mom always had my back, but she pushed me. The two together is what allows me to grow and learn. The last thing that motivates me is that I don’t want to repeat my father’s mistakes.
How did your time with PowerCorpsPHL impact you?
It helped me to invest in myself. And taught me I must do that before I could invest in what I believe in. My time with PowerCorpsPHL made me realize I’m more valuable than I perceived myself to be. So now I hold myself to a higher standard. I push myself to be engaged.
Now that you’re an alumni, what sort of involvement would you like to have with PowerCorpsPHL?
I would like to be a partner. I’m very active in my community and I want to reach out to PowerCorpsPHL crews to get involved with what I’m doing. I’d like to connect members to opportunities and work with PowerCorpsPHL to engage my community. I see PowerCorpsPHL as a board of mentors that I can always reach out to and get advice from.
What do you miss about PowerCorpsPHL? What don’t you miss?
I miss my original crew. Dark Matter Like That!
I want to be stable, have my own apartment, job, be with my fiancée. I just got a fellowship with Episcopal Community Services (ECS); I’ll be co-managing 3 community gardens. This includes planning, implementing, and maintaining the gardens, recruiting and leading volunteers, and helping with the development of the new Urban Garden Plan. This fellowship is 6 months long. I’m also enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia for summer courses, I’ll focus on environmental science.
My long term goals are to encourage sustainability and green urban development in my community. I’d like to be an advocate for youth and engage the community. I’d like to be a politician or heavily involved in politics because I want to enact my views about sustainability and youth. I’d like to be an entrepreneur, inventor, and artist.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I truly believe in PowerCorpsPHL and its mission and will miss being a part of PowerCorpsPHL and all the exciting ideas to come.
You may reach Deonte at firstname.lastname@example.org.