We see the work of building kid success neighborhoods as a community-driven movement and few represent the power and potential of this movement like Jasmine Mahone, a participating mother and volunteer at the Brilliant Detroit Osborn House.
Jasmine found her way to Brilliant Detroit thanks to the help of Lotonya Peterson, who teaches Osborn neighbors how to coupon. A mother of four, Jasmine’s kids were engaging with a home literacy program and she was looking for GED support. Upon visiting, she quickly “fell in love with the program, energy, and vibe” and “felt like [she] had a voice there.”
A self-described “system child,” Jasmine was personally familiar with the worlds of foster care and juvenile justice, and felt that no one in these institutional spaces cared to truly hear her. Brilliant Detroit was a breath of fresh air because people here listened and loved her. When Brilliant Detroit’s CEO and Co-Founder, Cindy Eggleton, came to meet with her personally – “when she could have made any excuse about not having enough time” – and told her “Jasmine, I believe in you and you have my word,” Jasmine felt like part of the family. She saw that this work is not about choosing programs for people; it is about asking people what they need and want and working with them to provide the necessary opportunities.
Jasmine is a people person through and through and has made it her mission to bridge any gaps between the Brilliant Detroit Osborn house and the surrounding neighborhood. She sees that people are scared of the impacts of previous programs in their lives and that there are often different languages spoken between service providers and participants. She says that you “have to have an eye to know [the participants]” to be able to effectively provide services.
“I am excited for my people because this program is bringing something to me,” she says, and “I am yearning for my people to feel what I’m feeling.” With staff support, Jasmine has launched a mental health support group at the Osborn house. She has represented Brilliant Detroit alongside Cindy and other staff members on Detroit Public Television and in meetings of community stakeholders. Staff enjoy her frequent messages, ideas, and infectious energy. “I am trying to become something and someone for my children and my people,” Jasmine says, and we believe that she is succeeding. If you come to the house broken, Jasmine has a mission for you to leave whole and connected to a community that listens and cares.
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