Daryl’s life didn’t start off easy. Growing up in the Wingate community of Washington, DC, he often recalls there being rampant violence in his neighborhood growing up. His mother, hoping to give him a better way, enrolled him in a So What Else youth program, and while she couldn’t have known it then, this soon became one of the major themes of Daryl’s life – and his family’s.
You see, Daryl isn’t just one of our former students. He’s also a former volunteer and current employee, spending nearly his entire life involved with So What Else in one capacity or another. As time went on, many of his family members became involved in the So What Else movement, with many of them still working as So What Else staff members today.
Years ago, after aging out of the program, Daryl made the decision to come back to volunteer, feeling that it “put him in a better mindset” and “added positivity” to his life. So when he was given the opportunity to work for So What Else as a paid teacher, he couldn’t resist. “So What Else showed me a lot,” shared Daryl. “Teaching is hard, but I like that I can pay it forward and be a good role model for today’s kids.”
At So What Else, our youth programs don’t just end when our students age out. By offering positive, productive opportunities to teens and young adults, we give our students the ability to grow with us and give back to the organization they’ve known since childhood. In doing so, we’re creating an intergenerational community of students, volunteers, teachers, and supporters working together to address the root causes of violence and create a better future for all.
Yesterday’s students are today’s teachers and mentors. When you support So What Else, you’re supporting the creation of productive outlets for young people living in the communities we serve. “I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t working at So What Else,” said Daryl, reflecting on his life. And we’re glad he’s here working with us.