At our 21st annual Strictly Business event on November 1, 2019 — which gathered more than 575 regional business and community leaders — JEVS Human Services honored four inspiring individuals who have faced great challenges in their lives and found the strength to achieve their personal and career goals. In addition, thanks to the support of our sponsors, attendees and donors, Strictly Business 2019 was able to surpass its fundraising goal of $325,000, raising a total of over $341,000. This brings the total raised through all 21 Strictly Business events to over 3 million dollars!
Special thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney and U.S. Senator Bob Casey for joining us, and thank you to our wonderful emcee, Karen Hepp.
We would also like to thank our generous sponsors and guests for helping us surpass our fundraising goal. We’d especially like to thank event sponsor Odell Studner and reception sponsor Aetna, Inc. Because of your generosity, we can continue to serve the most vulnerable in our community and help them achieve their dreams. Thank you!
Inspiration Award Honorees
With parents wrestling with addiction and frequent incarceration, Tasheed was raised in West Philadelphia by his devoted grandparents. He discovered basketball at an early age, inspired by watching Magic Johnson on television with his grandfather. A basketball standout on playground courts and at University City High School, Tasheed was recruited to play at the prestigious Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina. A successful college basketball career at Saint Joseph’s University led to a professional career in an NBA development league overseas.
After the birth of his first child, Tasheed left the NBA, returned to Philadelphia and found rewarding work as a youth counselor. When his business owner aspirations stalled, he turned to drug sales to supplement his income. He was eventually arrested and faced a fiveyear prison sentence for first-time felony drug sales. Tasheed was offered a second chance, enrolling in The Choice is Yours (TCY), a 13-month diversion program operated by JEVS, giving him an opportunity to undo what he calls “the biggest mistake of my life.” He graduated from TCY in August 2017 with a clean record and is now running a start-up youth mentoring, sports and apparel business, Born Leader Family, mentoring hundreds of Philadelphia youth and promoting leadership and integrity while teaching basketball skills. Tasheed is a regular guest speaker at TCY, sharing his story and inspiring others to make a difference in their community.
An accomplished high school track star and self-described “good kid,” Becky grew up miles from the streets of Kensington that would nearly claim her life. As a college freshman, she began experimenting with pills, which quickly led to a full-blown heroin addiction and numerous tries at recovery. During a period of sobriety, she became pregnant with her son, Caiden. She stayed clean during her pregnancy, but relapsed after his birth, losing custody of her son.
Homeless, she found her way to treatment again, this time determined to find a way to “make it stick.” Although still on the streets, methadone became an essential tool in her recovery and she enrolled in JEVS Achievement through Counseling and Treatment (ACT) clinic. She worked hard at her recovery and was a model patient, taking on a peer leadership role at the clinic while working part-time at a women’s recovery program. Her leadership was recognized with a scholarship to train for a certified peer specialist credential. She was hired at ACT as a Peer Recovery Specialist, where she excelled at helping others manage their recovery. Today she is working at Team ARRIVE as a mobile psychiatric rehabilitation worker, has regained full custody of her son, and recently purchased her first home. She continues to inspire staff and patients at ACT and has become a beacon of hope for those struggling with opioid addiction.
Isiah grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, raised by his grandmother when his parents’ addiction made it impossible for them to care for him. Frustrated and bored by brick and mortar education, he was enrolled in an online education program in 7th grade. With little structure at home, this was not the answer. When he returned to a traditional high school, he spent more time in suspension than in class. He dropped out and worked a series of low-wage fast food jobs. Isiah realized he needed to get his high school diploma to move ahead.
Isiah learned about JEVS Project WOW from his brother who was at JEVS’ Orleans Technical College. He thrived in this supportive environment and earned his high school diploma and property maintenance credentials. An exceptional student, Isaiah was rewarded a Lee Casper Memorial Scholarship to enroll in carpentry at Orleans Tech. It was here that he cultivated his passion for the building trades, earning a number of certifications and his carpentry diploma. He now works as a carpenter and regularly shares his story with other young adults in his community.
Originally from China, Leanne spent her early life in an orphanage in Shanghai until she was adopted at the age of 7. Her new mother did everything she could to give Leanne a loving and supportive home in America. As Leanne struggled to learn English at school, her mother noticed Leanne having seizures and other medical issues that required special attention and accommodations in the classroom. Because of her mother’s determination and her own hard work, Leanne was able to graduate from Cedar Creek High School and go to Atlantic County Special Services. There, Leanne learned her love for the kitchen and found her calling in life.
Wanting to pursue that passion more fully, Leanne participated in JEVS hireAbility Bridge to Work, a 2-year program that focuses on transition to employment after high school. Bridge to Work not only gave Leanne job readiness and skills training but also helped place her with Unidine Food Service doing food prep at Recovery Centers for America. With job coaching as part of JEVS hireAbility Supported Employment services, Leanne went from a part-time worker to a full-time employee. Though she started the job being extremely shy, she is now out on the front line serving customers on her own, providing service with a smile.
In The News
- The Northeast Times: Back on Track
- The Cherry Hill Sun: Cherry Hill resident survived horrors of opioid abuse, reclaimed life
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: After a life on the streets, a guide back for others
Proceeds from the $341,000 raised at our Strictly Business event fund scholarships to JEVS’ vocational assessment, job readiness, skills training and career services for individuals most in need. Thank you so much to our generous sponsors: