I recently came across someone who inspires me and who is doing incredible work with youth--someone who is changing their lives and doing it all on a volunteer basis. This is someone with vision, passion, talent and a drive to be a force of nature in a unique way.
His name is LeSean Shaw.
I came across LeSean on LinkedIn and connected with him. I was intrigued by his profile headline that reads:
Healthcare and Customer Service Specialist/Passionate NonProfit Advocate and Entrepreneur
I wanted to know more about someone who gave equal billing to his primary work and his work with a non-profit called Madd Poets Society. It's unique, it's powerful and it's inspiring.
Here is LeSean's story, in his words:
Initially when my father set out to establish Madd Poets Society (MPS), honestly I was not pleased. As a young man I did not understand having to "share" my father with other kids. My father and I had a budding relationship as circumstances and life situations kept me from meeting him until I was almost 10.
So at 16, the young, selfish version of me had only one question - "Why do I have to share my Dad?".
It took me almost 10 years and 5 years of service within Madd Poets Society to answer that question for myself. And what was the answer I came up with? I had to share my Dad because there were people that needed him more than me.
I'd like to clarify that statement a bit. I needed and still need my father to this day. However, what I came to realize is that not everyone had a person like my father in their life.
Too often are youth led down a path of deceit and destruction. Too often in the lives of youth, there is a void of positive male role models. And too often are these youth forgotten, unheard and lost in a search for acceptance.
Even without me noticing, my father had realized all of these things. Maybe it was because he grew up without a father. Maybe because he realized the impact it had on me, not having him in my life. Either way, my father decided to step up to the plate, not only for his family but for any youth that looked to him for guidance.
My father saw a deficit in their lives and in our community and he decided to fill it.
Today, I can truly say that my work with Madd Poets Society is one of the most fulfilling part of my life. We stand 18 years later on an idea that has developed into tangible change that we can see in our community and in the lives of the youth involved in our organization.
Madd, which stands for Making A Direct Difference, is pressing forward with the same mantra; To provide every youth, regardless of circumstance, a stage to speak profound truth and create social change.
We boast a 100% graduation rate among our high school seniors; with MPS graduates currently attending 9 colleges and universities in 5 states.
Over the years we have had more than 700 participants in the program, comprised of a diverse student body, from 20 local schools, including public, parochial, private and home-schooled sectors.
Our students have had the opportunity to perform oratory works in front of thousands of spectators throughout the span of our 18 year existence. We have even had the privilege of having former students become part of our growing mentoring and administrative staff.
Madd Poets Society will continue to build its curriculum and by doing so, continue to bring change, knowledge, and foster growth, not only in the youth involved in our program but to every person we come in contact with.
We will continue to reach out to youth of all demographics, filling a void in our community, by continuing to be there for those that need us the most; our youth.
Alan's Note: You can find out more about Madd Poets Society here: http://maddpoetssociety.org/
Here is LeSean on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lesean-shaw-02927798