“At the point in life where your talents meet the needs of the world is where God wants you to be.” 
-Albert Schweitzer

…Saturday, June 15, 2019 in Oakland, Calif. (Josh Edelson/AP Images for Clorox)

Normally, I don’t do big speeches or much with social media posts. I have a publicist who manages my social network (aka my amazing fiancée). I’m a behind-the-scenes type of guy. This, however, is one of those moments that beckons me to speak. So here it goes:

W1901 was the job number designated to the What Comes Next Project in collaboration with Thrive Collective and Clorox. This would be our second consecutive collaboration with the cleaning powerhouse. Thanks to our success from the original project done in Harlem (check out some of the action at Thrive), the Clorox team put their confidence in us again for a new project in the city of Oakland. 

I know a lot has already been said about the project across social media, blog posts, and, most importantly, from word-of-mouth directly within the community in which this project will have the most impact. As the West Coast Director and Senior Project Manager for Thrive, I wanted to take the time to focus on highlighting a part of the story that stood out to me. One of teamwork, relationship building, and awe-inspiring coincidences: the beginning.

Upon moving back to the Bay Area, there were a few possible projects underway besides this one that made my transition from my seventeen-plus year home in New York seem like the best move. Some of these were personal projects and some were directly related to Thrive. Most of them were from connections made while on the east coast. They were all pretty promising being negotiations with established organizations and companies, many of which would take place within a structure that was already setup. The W1901 project, however, didn’t have a place to launch from nor did we have a program, or much alone a team, that would operate out of the resulting completion of the project. We needed a space that would allow a mentoring program working with the youth and community, or we needed to find an organization that already had one but needed the resources to take it further. We couldn’t find one.

As the deadline to secure the W1901 project approached, it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. The list of potential locations were already occupied, other groups who had the programs we needed didn’t have a space or weren’t set up in the type of under-resourced neighborhood we were looking for. Then something slowly started to happen.

In relation to W1901, other personal and Thrive-related projects started to fall through, even the ones that seemed most promising with funds already pouring in. The feeling of hopelessness began to set in.

But then, the West Oakland project began to take a turn for the best, with less than five days until the deadline.

One of the organizations we were thrilled to connect with had been doing some feet-on-the-ground work and helped push the project forward. Eric and Shawana from UrbanLife Mentors reestablished a connection with Rev. Curtis Flemming of Bay Community Fellowship. Bay Community Fellowship leases a building in West Oakland and works directly in the community of the Lower Bottoms trying to love and bring hope into a very under-resourced neighborhood. As happenstance would have it, this was the same building we first looked at when introduced by World Impact, the owners of the building. UrbanLife was introduced to Thrive Collective through two other separate connections, Tommy Nixon of Urban Life Youth Workers Institute and Cameron “Camer1” Moberg, artist of San Fransisco, who also joined the project as one of the art directors for the new space. 

New conversations began to happen instantly, and we were underway for UrbanLife to have a new space to mentor out of with the help of all those mentioned and many more (check out UrbanLifeMentors.org and ThriveCollective.org for further details). The teamwork involved was so selfless with the sharing of resources, hours volunteered, hope poured out and love given. These attributes contributed to the community’s acceptance. 

…Saturday, June 15, 2019 in Oakland, Calif. (Josh Edelson/AP Images for Clorox)

As a team builder, to get everyone in the right position where their talents meet the needs of the situation can be challenging. In this case, though, it just seemed like all the right people were ready and willing at the precise time. 

This personal encounter doesn’t entirely capture all the beauty of the teamwork involved, or how these group and individual relationships strengthened under God’s divinely orchestrated kingdom-building project. To fully understand, join us for what comes next. Stay tuned…