The social efforts of Jerod Grant get recognized by the NAACP

Jerod+Grant+with+the+NAACP+President+award+in+his+office+at+the+Outreach+and+Diversity+Center+oer+at+Parks+and+Student+Union.

Taylor Drake

Jerod Grant with the NAACP President award in his office at the Outreach and Diversity Center oer at Parks and Student Union.

Taylor Drake, Staff Writer

When a name is called  at an award ceremony, the recipient usually has to pause for 3 or 4 second moment,  because they don’t expect it. That was he reaction of Jerod Grant, Director of the Diversity and Equity Center at EvCC, who became co-recipient of the President’s Award along with Whittier Elementary School teacher Jennifer Nonisa on Mar.14, 2015 at The NAACP Freedom Fund Gala that took place at the Edward D Hansen Center in the Comcast Arena.  EvCC also won an Appreciation Award, according to Grant its not an annual award, but one that is used to recognize the support that the local NAACP has received from the college.

The President’s Award is hand picked by the President of the local chapter. According to Snohomish County NAACP President, Janice Greene.

“Jerod was chosen for the President’s Award because he is a dedicated and committed community leader.   Jerod has compassion and people of all ages respond to his sincerity because it’s evident he genuinely cares.  This makes him an especially effective role model for young people.

He is a leader who reaches out and gives his time to help others reach their potential.  It’s been an honor to work with him.”

 

On April 7, The Clipper did a one on one interview with Grant about receiving the award, leadership and more.

Clipper: What was the atmosphere like at the award ceremony?

Grant: “I see it as all family, that always comes to mind. What I love is that they had a saxophone player playing in the background, I guess he comes every single year, and he was good. So he’s back their playing music all through out, so it had a real eased relaxed feel, while at the same time (the) community was there, a real connection was there and I was able to meet people that I had never even met before, to where I’m keeping in contact with them now… The feeling and environment in the room, I’ll just say it like this; there were elders in there who have been around much longer than any one else in the room, there were 30 to 40 year olds who either not from the Everett or Snohomish County  area and moved here or are from the Snohomish county area and know a lot of the history of Everett and have been working closely with the NAACP, with the college and with different programs, and we had our young people there from middle school to high school that are leaders at their schools or are starting to learn more about what their passion and what they can do to really step into their leadership roles… There were so many different generations in that room, so many generations and a lot of different stories, but a common cause, support for each other and support for our community.”

Clipper: What was your reaction to your name being called?

Grant: “What’s crazy is, there’s a program and on the program it lists of every one who is getting an award, along with a mini bio, when it got to this award, Ms. Janice Greene stepped up to the mic and said, ‘So I’m going to present the present the President’s Award.’ And I was looking at the program, I was like ‘the President’s Award?’ And I think a couple of people were thinking the same thing… she said ‘I love giving this award because the people that receive it, they have no idea so they cant prepare some speech or whatever they want to say.'”

So I was just sitting there listening, me and Jennifer Nonisa were sitting at the same table and Janice Greene read of my name and I was just like, ‘ha ha ha’, it caught me off guard and it was a real emotional time because there (were) a lot of elders in the room and elders talking about their stories and how many of them were the first African Americans to integrate certain, I don’t know if they were to be called, quadrants,  what ever they might be called. And so they were talking about how they were the first, their journeys here in Everett, in the nation in the world and it was just… The first thing to pop in my head was just ‘man to be on this stage along with all these elders who just done so much to pave the way for my self and many others. So was I thinking, ‘I hope I get this right here I know I deserve it or I don’t know whether or I’ll get this or not’ It didn’t even cross my mind, because it wasn’t in the program, I didn’t even know what to expect.”

The Clipper: What was your physical and mental reaction?

Grant: “I just sat there and had a huge smile on my face… thinking to my self ‘did miss Janice just say my name?’   and I didn’t know if I should sit down, should I get up, do I have to say something? And then Mr.Ben Young, he’s the vice president of Snohomish County NAACP and he just gave me a nudge and told me ‘Go over there on stage.’ and so I just stood up there a wile, Ms. Janice said all these things, much similar to what she said in her email and so at that time I was trying to really just ground myself and take in the moment, but it was tuff, all at once a lot of different emotions.

I don’t think I really received the award until probably the next day and really step back and take a moment and really think about the things that I was able to be involved in in the community and on campus, probably not until the next day because at that moment their was just a lot, I couldn’t quiet my mind.”

Clipper: What is your relationship with Nonisa?

Grant: “Jennifer is a good friend we started here at the same time. She went to Cascade, I went to Mariner,  we didn’t know each other but we knew of each other… growing up, our brothers, I don’t know if they were the same age or knew each other and that’s where we maybe crossed paths.

Before I worked for the college I worked for Eastern Washington University as the Admissions Advisor Representative, here in western Washington was my territory. So one of the events that I worked was the Students of Color Career Conference where I went and held a table so students can ask questions about the college. So I officially met Jennifer Nonisa there and she was talking to me and one of my friends about coming to her third grade class, this is when she was at Garfield (elementary) doing student teaching and said, ‘If you want to come to our class and talk about like, what dose it mean to be college bound/have a college bound mind set and mentality.’ Me and my friend, his name is Randy Corradine… went to Garfield to her, I want to say third graders or fourth graders, we did a 30 to 45 minute engaging type of work shop to get students excited about college and to think about college. And from there Jennifer Nonisa told Karena Hooks who was the director at the time of the Diversity and Equity Center, I didn’t even know but she put in a good word for me. There was a program manager position that was being created here and Jennifer Nonisa Spoke to Karena and said that ‘I feel this person would be good to work at the college.’ So the position opened up and I was encouraged to apply for it. It’s just interesting how things went full circle… she played a big part in me coming to Everett… I see Jenifer like a sister.”

The Clipper: Why do you think she won?

Grant: “I don’t think, I know she won, because of her dedication to youth and our community. Jennifer is the type of person to where if she’s gonna put her time into something, its not going to be half way, its not going to be kind of, she’s going to be fully present, engaged and bring her entire self.”

The Clipper: Why is it important to care about young people?

Grant: “They’re going to be our future leaders of the world.I know that many people say that young people are our future, but I’ve said this before and I’m a firm believer of it, to me the future is five minutes from now, its an hour from now. So we shouldn’t be waiting to equip them with tools to where they can give back to their community, I feel like it’s important for them to know that they matter, its important for them to know the importance of community, its important for them to open relationships… There’s that saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but if we’re thinking about our young people then it’s a consistent effort, its not just one event, its not just an eight week program, it’s always having that hyper awareness of what’s needed, are we really listening to them and noticing, because young people, a lot of times will keep it real with us and tell us what they need and what their saying.

So when it comes to our adults, our elders, our grown folks, there needs to be those intergenerational relationships, those need to stay strong. It’s important because they are ready and also powerful enough to step into leadership roles now to effect change in our community and at their schools.”

The Clipper: How do you get people to follow you?

Grant: “How do I get people to follow me? I don’t see it as people following me. I see it more as there’s that big vision of really needing to equip our youth with tools and skills to do what they’re already capable of and that’s one of the visions and its not so much getting people to follow me, its getting them to understand the vision and the power of it. But at the same time connecting with others that have that similar interest and that want to connect with youth, that want to be there to mentor, that want to be there to give work shops, presentations or just be there and really just find ways to bring us all together.”