In my house I have a framed thank you note from James Patrick Stewart received a few years back. He is thanking me for my
contribution to his past and future. This is very JP to be looking forward. I framed it as a reminder of how much a gesture of gratitude can mean (I cried when I opened it) but also to remember when volunteer efforts don’t go the way we hope, I can remember that there are times they do. And because I think highly of JP!
However, there is no claim that I am the one and only person who has been a contributor in JP’s life by a longshot. We recently Facetimed to catch up and started listing all those who were PTM influencers in his life and we stopped at 14 and could have kept going! “I learn from everybody”, he says. “I am so appreciative. It was a team effort to get me here.”
For those who might be new to PTM, JP has been around a while. He started as a rising 3rd grader, went onto the middle school program (where I first met him), attended faithfully through high school and was in the original Thrive Program for PTM high school graduates. He completed his undergrad at TSU in 2018 (one of his PTM mentors flew in from Spokane, WA. to attend his graduation!). He is now on staff at PTM and finishing his master’s degree at TSU this spring.
He gave permission to share some of our FaceTime conversation:
Q: JP, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
A: Don’t worry. Be yourself and be true to yourself. When you get to college you can be influenced in a lot of different ways by new people. You need to have a good anchor so as not to “fly away”. My freshmen year I went all over the place with new experiences. But you should remember to stick with your values. Be consistent. Stay humble.
Q: Can you share something about your experience with being on staff at PTM?
A: I love the students the most and a lot more than I thought I would (chuckles). I love their energy. It might sound selfish, but I love getting hugs. They remind me of myself and others I knew. There is a lot more to this world than they see. You only know what you can see. I was the same.
Q: What are your job duties at PTM? And you are working at Sportsplex as well- what do you do there?
A: @ PTM I am all over the place helping as needed – whatever the directors need me to do- with homework, enrichment, cleaning…@Sportsplex I am helping to plan summer camps, doing some social media posts and selling memberships.
Q: I know you and Mr. Chan are close. As a staff person now, what is something you admire about him?
A: He can look at a situation, dissect it and know what needs to be done or said. He stays calm and focused which I think is a true gift and blessing.
Q: How has it helped or enriched your life being around PTM all these years?
A: Mr. Matt (Verheul-longtime PTM mentor) gave me a spider chair- you know that has a webbed bottom with holes that you sit on? Friends come in and don’t want to sit in it because it looks like it wouldn’t support you and you would fall through. PTM has been like the woven web on my spider chair and has kept me from falling through the cracks. A safety net. I have been able to take a leap of faith and do things because I know I have that support when it was not always possible with my family. Someone has always been there to listen, to pray, and to welcome me. I always felt at home.
Congratulations, JP, on earning your master’s degree this spring! We are so proud of you and it has been a pleasure watching you grow in so many ways!