Flecshaney’s Story: “That’s What Service Means to Me – Healing”
As the 2016-17 school year came to an end, buildOn students across the country reflected on their experiences serving at home and abroad. Flecshaney Jackson, a buildOn senior at Coliseum College Prep Academy in Oakland, recently shared her personal story about why service has become such an important part of her life. Flecshaney has served more than 130 hours helping members of her community.
In my Oakland community, most people know each other, but not everyone takes care of each other. There’s a lot of poverty and violence, and people just ignore other people who need help, like they don’t even exist.
Growing up in Oakland, I was not able to ignore these issues. I lost both of my brothers to gun violence. One died in 2002, and my brother Antoine was killed in 2011 when I was 13. Antoine was only 30 when he was killed.
The loss of my brothers didn’t just affect me, it also affected my mom. She became really overprotective. She used to make me come home three hours before the streetlights turned on. When I was out of the house, she would call me every five minutes asking: “Where are you? What are you doing?”
Growing up in Oakland, I was not able to ignore these issues. I lost both of my brothers to gun violence. One died in 2002, and my brother Antoine was killed in 2011 when I was 13.
Above: By serving with the children at CUES, an elementary school located next door to her Oakland high school, Flecshaney is serving as a positive role model and mentor for the next generation of changemakers in Oakland.
So when I started high school and wanted to join buildOn, that wasn’t easy for my mom, but she knew that it was important for me to go because I was helping our community. By making sandwiches and passing them out to the homeless, by serving at food pantries and soup kitchens, I am able to help the people on the street that others ignore. I have learned that I have the power to help people who live close to me and even people on the other side of the world, like in Malawi, where I went on Trek to build a school with buildOn. My mom didn’t want me to go to another county without her, but she really trusts the buildOn staff, so she let me go.
By making sandwiches and passing them out to the homeless, by serving at food pantries and soup kitchens, I am able to help the people on the street that others ignore.
Above: Flecshaney poses for a photo with her host family in Malawi. She traveled to Malawi on Trek in the summer of 2016 to help build a school with a rural village that lacked proper classrooms.
Living with a host family on Trek in Malawi helped me see that my mom is right when she’s always telling me how important family is, and the service that I do now in my school and community has helped me heal. Staying busy with service has helped me not think about what happened to my brothers all the time, but they are still on my mind often. At buildOn, I get to be myself and be silly. I laugh so hard with my friends and the buildOn staff, who have become mentors, but also like brothers and sisters to me. I know I want to keep serving throughout my life. That’s what service means to me — healing.
In the fall, I will be going to college at Fresno State. I want to major in Psychology. Hopefully I can be a school counsellor or psychologist so I can continue helping people in need. Because of buildOn, I know that I can make myself happy by making others happy.
Below: Flecshaney recently shared her personal service story with hundreds of Bay Area business and community leaders at the buildOn Bay Area Dinner on May 19, 2017.