Updated: Jul 22, 2022
Leaders make the world go ‘round. Behind every incredible venture you have come to know and love, a leader sits at the helm, orchestrating greatness. Whether in the limelight, or behind the scenes, moving and shaking, a worthy leader instructs, innovates, and inspires.
This week, I was granted the high honor of parleying with the kind-hearted leader, Jóncquil Hope—the architect of her nonprofit, Hope Community Services. Ms. Hope’s nonprofit partnered with the Youngstown Creative Collective to host the eye-opening and life-changing second annual Weeklong Juneteenth Celebration. This year, the theme is “Sankofa.”
According to the Youngstown Creative Collective's website, Sankofa means, “to retrieve and return to.” They go on to explain the relevancy of Ghana’s Akan tribe’s symbol as the motif within their event; they state that, during the event, the focus will be on, “Returning to our culture, our ancestors, and ourselves. The steps we take forward will most definitely impact those who will come after us. So, during this weeklong celebration, we move with mindfulness and knowledge that the legacies that have come before us have set us up for the legacies we’ll leave behind.” What a week to remember, indeed.
The Elloparley with Ms. Hope took place on the occasion’s “Wellness Wednesday” event moments before the venue filled in steadily with women and men ready to listen intently to a guest panel of four esteemed speakers on the history of wellness in the African-American community. I asked Joncquil:
Who does the world see you as & what do you do as you?
“It would be nice that people view me as a person that's kind—that is dedicated to facilitating some sort of change in the world. I feel like I can't really control other people’s view of me. So, I just try to be my best self and put out energies into the world that I would like to receive back.
I'm a licensed counselor and I do things with a whole separate business—and then I have my nonprofit, which is my way of giving back. And I do a multitude of things. I've done programs to combat infant mortality. I've done programs to [help with] nutrition and wellness—and so, now, it's kind of like a combination of me being a counselor and the nonprofit. We are focusing on Juneteenth, but I wanted to really focus on wellness ‘cause especially in the black community, it’s kind of like, 'Ooh, it's taboo.’ And I think it should be talked about.”
Who do you see yourself as & what would you like to be doing?
“I see myself as an individual with the power to help change the world by helping others change themselves.
I would like to be living my life, doing whatever I want to do—and hopefully, someone will like me enough to pay me for it *laughs* You know? Like, I wanna travel. I want to impact people all over the world and take my kids with me—‘cause I think they would like it—and allow myself to be creative while doing the work.”
What is Present-You most proud of?
“Progress and healing. Progress in general, but also of healing past traumas and not inflicting them back out into the world. I feel like there's a lot of that going on. It’s definitely a cycle.
My friends and I were just talking about—you know—all these shootings and killings… and it’s people who are hurt and angry and not happy so, they’re going to inflict the hurt and the anger and the unhappiness back out into the world. So then it’s a cycle; they hurt someone and that person hurts—we’ve all heard the thing, ‘Hurt people hurt people.’ So, what can happy, and healthy, and healed people do? They can bring happiness, and healthiness, and healing to other people. So, the goal is to facilitate that—even if it's on a small scale, because eventually—hopefully—it catches on and turns into, like, a snowball.”
What is your vision for change and how motivated are you to do as such?
“My vision for change is to motivate others to change themselves so that change can spread on a larger scale basis. And I do it in a multitude of ways: I do it with being a counselor; I facilitate a couple support groups. I provide individual counseling. I use my nonprofit to provide support to the community—I connect with other organizations on their initiatives that are on a similar wavelength, so that it's like I'm telling the same message—I'm just saying it in different ways and to different groups of people.”
What has been your most negative experience in your field and how did you overcome that?
“The lack of collaboration. I think that's a big negative. Some people, they just don't want to. I don't know if it's the survival mindset—which I know is a thing—but I think that also comes from a place of trauma and not being healed. Or if it's just, ‘I just don't want to ‘cause I just don't want to,’ which, in either case, it's fine because I'm still gonna do it. …But there's that African proverb: 'If you wanna go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others,’ or something—but you know, it just speaks to the fact that collaboration will get you way farther—and I've seen it! I've seen it work.”
What is the best part about doing what you do that the average person may be envious of?
“I would say that the best part is getting support from others. Like, I've gotten grants through the Ohio Commission on Minority Health before. I've had partnerships with companies in California. I've gotten funding from the City Council—and large corporations. I mean, we got funding from the Mahoning Valley Gaming out in Austintown. And that’s just one location out of many. So, for us to get funding, I think that that's a big deal. I think it's a big deal to get thousands of dollars of funding from anyone—because some people don't wanna give it up. So, the people that gave $50—I’m appreciative. The people giving 4,000—I’m appreciative of that, ‘cause it's all going into the pot.”
How much work would you say you put into your profession and process?
“So, just for this week alone, I've been calculating my hours. Just me, personally, I've put in like 80 hours so far—just on Juneteenth. That’s separate from the support groups. And it’s Wednesday. Four more days to go. So, there's a lot more work to do. But, you know, when you're in the moment—like, last night at the genealogy event—when we're in there and you can see the people that are attending, listening to the person speaking, and they're getting good information—those are the moments that make it all worth it—when you're there and you can actually see it happening. But, yeah, when you're stressed out and you're trying to solve a problem and you only got a few days left, yes, it can be difficult, but the end result makes it worth it.”
If you would’ve never started down this journey, where do you think you’d be today?
“I have no idea. I could maybe be on the beach somewhere. I don't know. Maybe I would not even live here; but I'm glad that I am where I am, and I do feel like I am where I should be. I don't feel like I shouldn't be here. I feel like I'm where I need to be, doing what I need to do. I don't know what will transpire in the future. But I do know that the goals that I have are going to take me to higher levels in other places. I know that.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
“Business and personal are separate—because they are. And I think that, in business, when you remember that, you—number one—save yourself a lot of hurt—and number two—you take out the time to protect yourself business-wise.”
What would you say to someone whose fear prevents them from starting the journey to their wildest dreams?
“If you don't care about your dreams, how can you expect someone else to? I mean—it’s kind of one of those things; you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'em drink. So, you know, you can give someone all the advice in the world—you can give 'em all these tools, but, at the end of the day, people have to believe in themselves and have enough respect, and self-confidence, and a sense of worth before they're going to gamble on themselves and what they can do.
I think that the fear comes from the lack of self-confidence—the lack of belief—the lack of being healed. If you feel down about yourself, yeah, you’re gonna be scared of everything. You know—something falls from the wall you’re going to be scared. But, if you're like, ‘I got this,’ and something falls, you're just looking at it like, ‘Oh, okay.’ So, once you feel better about yourself, a lot of the fear, stress, anxiety—it will simmer down a little bit. At least that's been my experience.”
Is there anything you’d like to let the readers know?
“There's so much… I’ll say one thing—this kind of ties in with the best advice part: You can't do everything. I mean, you can… but do you want to? Do you wanna make all the food? Do you wanna be the DJ? Do you wanna be the photographer? Do you wanna be the bouncer? Do you wanna create all of the advertising? I'm sure you can—but do you really wanna spend three years being really good at something? Or do you wanna just pay someone? Pay a professional to get it done so you can focus on your mission.”
I love it! Truly inspiring and incredible. I found myself buzzing with zeal to listen to Ms. Hope speak so passionately about her endeavors in our community, her methods, and her triumphs. And I admire her for dedicating her life to topics that can feel so forbidden, yet is so needed, mental health and wellness.
If you are interested in partnering with or learning more about Jóncquil’s nonprofit organization along with her events in our community, here are her points of contact:
Her website HERE.
Her Instagram HERE.
Hope Community Service info HERE.
I am quite eager to see how Joncquil Hope will move to lead the world in times to come.
Enjoyed this Elloparley? Want to be interviewed next? Know someone just as talented who is rising to the top of their industry in the Youngstown area? Contact me HERE and let’s set a meeting up! The future is now.