Born: Harlem, NY
Current residence: Queens, NY
Volunteer: Since 2007; Current Dean of Enrollment Services at GMHC’s Dr. Lawson Learning Institute; also teaches a Critical Thinking class. Former Asst. Dean of Student Advisement & Asst. V.P., Registrar.
What was your situation like when you came to GMHC? I worked for the Board of Education for 20 years while volunteering with various organizations. I also experienced 2 strokes which subsequently ended my career there. After 2 years of rehabilitation, I volunteered with GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent) where I met Dr. Lawson.
What were you looking for when you came to GMHC? I have always volunteered as a way of being for my entire life. After my rehabilitation, I had plenty of time. By then, I had lost many friends to AIDS and was also confronted with survivors’ guilt. As a result, I felt motivated to support Dr. Lawson in this work.
What are the joys of this work for you? There are so many…I enjoy seeing people learn and that challenges me as their teacher. I love challenges in life as they help me grow. It’s nice being part of a team that is going good for others.
What have you learned about yourself in your volunteering journey? Living from a non-judgmental point of view allows for my openness and availability to all. That strengthens me spiritually. I now have a better outlook on HIV as a result of my work here. I am more communicative in asking this basis question: “Have you been tested [for HIV]?” I personally get tested for my own sexual health. Today, I am blessed that this work allows me to continue to do something I know without question of who I am: a Black same-gender loving man, an educator and mentor doing something beautiful and purposeful for this work and my life.
Can you share a volunteer experience that impacted you tremendously? I recall on of my students who was in his senior year and had low self-confidence. He was a single parent raising a child, and did not think he could accomplish his GED [General Education Diploma]. He enjoyed challenging me in English and Critical Thinking classes with his inquisitive questions and debates. I am so delighted to have students unfold their passion for learning and challenging my point of view. Ultimately, this student graduated and was his class valedictorian. He consequently enrolled in our college preparatory program and received his certificate. This experience challenged my sense of perfection and today gives me great joy to improve my teaching methods and to continuously support my students’ educational goals.
What do you with your spare time? I volunteer at the Griot Circle in Brooklyn and GMAD in the Elders’ Program. I am a Deacon at my church and spend time with my three sons. I watch the Syfy channel; listen to classical music and WBAI radio [similar to NPR]. I love to cook and take care of my gorgeous mysterious black cat which I named Midnight.