Stories of Excellence–Geron White
Geron White believes in making a difference. He has seen the impact of perseverance, love and faith in his own life and is striving to share this with others. By continuing his education at Mitchell, he hopes to gain skills and knowledge to enhance his already broad impact in the Statesville community.
White grew up in the Cool Spring area and attended North Iredell High School. After graduating, White chose to go straight into the workforce to support himself and his family. Now a City of Statesville employee, White recently decided the time was right to continue his studies. He took on the challenge of being a full-time employee and part-time student not only as a personal accomplishment but also to be a role model for his two sons. White chose Mitchell because to continue his connection to the Statesville community. “Just hearing about all of the excellent classes they have,” he shared, “it made me want to partake in them.”
Coming back to school has been a challenge for White, but Mitchell faculty, staff and resources have eased the transition. The availability of financial aid support and the helpfulness of Student Services staff have provided much needed assistance and advice. White is studying business administration coursework and hopes to be promoted within the city of Statesville upon graduating with his degree. White shared he may continue his studies after Mitchell but is currently focusing on the first step.
Despite juggling his job and his studies, White is also an avid community volunteer. He has been coaching travel basketball for over 20 years. While many travel clubs have cost prohibitive fees, White does not charge for kids to be on his team. “I just want the child to play,” he said. “I don’t care if it is a boy or a girl or what grade, I just want to keep that child out of trouble.” White funds the program by collecting and recycling scrap metal. The funds help pay for the tournaments and uniforms for his teams.
Over the years, White has coached and made a lasting impact on hundreds of young lives. While he has many stories to share, the story of one young man who was considering becoming involved with a gang sticks out. “I kept telling him that it is not what you think that it is,” White shared. “Gangs claim that they show love but they don’t. The streets don’t have any love for you. You are either going to have an open casket, closed casket, or you are going to be in prison it is your choice.” While White’s words did not have an immediate impact, they stuck with the young man. Instead of pursing a life of violence, the young man is on course to become a law enforcement officer.
White also gives back to the community is through his initiative Clean Heart of Statesville. This project is a combined effort with Purple Heart Homes, bringing the community together through cookouts and events. “Purple Heart Homes has a passion and we have a passion, so we put our passions together and have been making things happen,” White reflected. “When it first started, I was on the garbage truck for the sanitation department and there was a murder that took place in Statesville. There was a young man that lost his life. I wondered why are people were being so heartless. I said something else has to be done, we have to do something to bring this community together.” With the help of coworker Darius Frasier and the support of many others, White decided to host a community cookout. White has always worked to bring his community together. “I think, to me,” he shared, “a strong community together can withstand anything that you throw at them. But there shouldn’t have to be anything thrown at us if we were already strong from the start.”
The project, which started small, has become known as the Stop the Violence Cookout and has grown to several hundred attendees. Additional community support from private donations and faith community support have ensured the initiative will continue. The initiative has even received support from Statesville’s mayor. “As the Mayor of Statesville, I got to know Geron White first from his work with the City of Statesville,” said Mayor Costi Kutteh. “I then learned of his work in the community and the Stop the Violence Cookout and I wanted to be part of it. I have made it a priority to attend the event and contribute in some small way every year.”
Whether in their own lives or in their community, White encourages others to take a chance and not give up. “Things are going to happen but you just have to keep persevering and stay focused,” he shared. “If you want to make a difference, don’t be scared. Step out. You might not think that it is going to be successful but it will be successful if you stay with it. Have faith and don’t give up.” By expressing more love, never giving up, and having more faith, White believes everyone can be the best version of themselves. He has certainly shown it is possible.
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