Giving Something Back
The boys at Roxbury House, a group home for boys ages 11-16, are always excited to see John Turner when he visits each month. Not just for the ice cream and cookies he brings, but because John is someone they can look up to, relate to and talk to—a role model, in fact.
John brings a wealth of experience to Roxbury House. He began volunteering at Mather Elementary School 15 years ago and started at our Roxbury-based program two years ago. Each visit varies. Sometimes he talks about the importance of education and sometimes he just chats about life, answering any questions or concerns the boys may have.
John spent his first nine years living in the projects in Michigan before moving to the suburbs, where he completed his high school education. He went on to gain a college degree and an MBA. He is now the Area Development Director of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), whose well-known tagline states: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
John explains, "I know what it is like to have limited scope and I want to make these kids aware of the possibilities beyond drugs, pimps, and prostitutes. It is important for the boys to have role models and realize there are possibilities out there and if they don't have people making them aware of this, how will they ever know? I see my job as giving back to the community."
John's role models are his parents. His father worked for General Motors for 30 years and his mother, a teacher, went back to college later in life to get her Masters degree. "In our house, there was never a question about whether we wanted to go to college or not, we had no choice. We were going to college!" laughs John. Like his parents, John is adamant about the importance of education.
John is also Social Action Chairman of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Some of the members accompany John on his visits to Roxbury House. "I like to bring along some of the younger members so that the boys can meet people closer to their age," John says.
John's goal is for the boys to have fun, but to learn while they are doing so. He is a constant reminder that "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."