Deandre Jones may not be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize but he is definitely on a path that will give him serious consideration! At the second Pitch and Highlight Night hosted by the Safe Alliances for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force, participants had five minutes to present their idea on how to reduce neighborhood violence. Deandre’s story gave him credibility- how he brought a gun to school when he was 14 years-old and the consequences that followed. A life filled with significant challenges and struggles, his message now to the young men who he was is compelling. And with the $10,000 award granted at Pitch Night, he has some funding to make his vision a reality.
Deandre came to Steepletown back in January to be part of JobStart as he learned about it at a jobfair and knew that he would be able to start working without too many questions being asked. His first week had him out shoveling snow for Seniors which didn’t excite him nor has pushing a lawnmower been very interesting for him. However Deandre kept checking in for JobStart which led Korey Anderson, the JobStart Coordinator, to encourage Deandre to join the Lead Program back in June. It seemed like a good as he was often talking about his networking and how he wanted to take the efforts of JobStart to the next level.
And then it happened! On Tuesday, June 19th, competing with pitches from 15 other nonprofit organizations, Deandre’s vision won the support of those judging the competition. As he states, “I want to give young men inspiration, that to get where you want to go you have to help people along the way. You also need to utilize your resources and give more and take less.”
Under Deandre’s leadership Steepletown will soon be launching Jump Ahead, as Deandre has so named it, a modified version of JobStart for younger men, ages 15-18. “I’m glad to put together a platform for young people to be rich in experiences, even if they are not rich in wealth right now. This will motivate them to do something in life that is meaningful.”
Stay tuned for more exciting news as this initiative to reduce violence in our community is rolled out!