Giving D.C. Youth a Chance
By Julia Irving
Community Outreach Coordinator, Sixth District-Metropolitan Police Department
2011 Linowes Leadership Award Winner
To read about all four 2011 Linowes Leadership Award Winners, click here.
“Wow, are you really from DC the actual city? You don’t have a baby? Are you serious, you graduated from public schools in Washington, DC?” So, have you ever shot anyone?” I could fill an entire page of all the negative comments and perceptions my peers in undergrad had of me once they learned I was from Washington, DC and not a suburb of DC. Ironically, many of my close male friends fit this stereotype and I always wondered why and how, but to have those same identifiers placed on me perplexed me because we were obviously different. Those negative comments coupled with an in depth study of the “Miseducation of the Negro” propelled me to focus on giving back to residents of DC and working to dispel the negative stereotypes associated with youth from the area.
Always the trench worker, I was fortunate to become a Director of a Reentry Program East of the River and quickly learned, the true leader of the program were each of the members of the team. Each day tirelessly giving of themselves and personal resources to improve the economic self-sufficiency of consumers my team members taught me a lot about life, the program, our services and most importantly, the consumers. Transitioning into my current position as an outreach coordinator, I remember the tenactity of their work and each day aim to partner with an individual or organization, share trade secrets without fear of someone “taking my idea”, explain the obstacles and brainstorm solutions, and always be cognizant of the voice of the voiceless residents and communities I serve. When a residents says, “thank you, the issue was resolved,” or a youth from Youth Court says,” Youth Court saved my life and gave me a second chance, I really learned a lot,” or a senior is overjoyed because the Commander of the Sixth District delivered a Thanksgiving basket to her home, and even when an officer says, “wow, there are some good kids in this neighborhood,” it makes me want to work a little harder and be a little more creative in my approach. “Allowing myself to be lead and inspired by others, aids me in becoming a better leader.