Joyice Powell excited about school for at-risk teen-agers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Caring. Empowerment. Self-esteem.

These are just a few things that the Hampton Roads Youth Center has to offer kids, said Joyice Powell, the school’s executive assistant. The center, a residential school for at-risk teens slated to open in September,

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will provide intensive educational and counseling services to teens experiencing crises at home or school that, if left unchecked, could develop into life-altering problems, she said.

Powell became a permanent fixture at the HRYC in January, after earning her master’s degree from Regent University. But she had worked at the center periodically over the past couple of years, during summers and filling in when other assistants left.

&uot;I’ve been watching a dream become a reality, from ground zero to getting ready for that first resident to arrive,&uot; she said. &uot;I can hardly wait for the students to get here.

&uot;I would be a part of this organization, with or without a job here,&uot; Powell continued. &uot;…I see such a need for this type of organization.&uot;

Too often, kids get lost in the shuffle of their parent’s hectic lives, she said. The type of teen who will benefit from the HRYC may be teased at school, be struggling academically and have problems communicating and getting along with their family members.

&uot;Those kids need to be someplace where they are told ‘You are special’ and ‘You can do it,’&uot; Powell said. &uot;This is a place where that will happen…When nobody else understands them, we will understand them.

&uot;I love helping kids …and what could be better than helping to turn a life around? It’s going to be awesome.

Name? Joyice Ann Powell

Age? 52

Hometown? I was born in Norfolk but my family moved to Portsmouth when I was 3-1/2 years old. That’s where I grew up.

Family? Married 9 years in October to Wong-ya G. Jones, Sr. Together, we have four children:

one daughter, 32, living in Washington, D.C.; two sons, 31 & 29, living in Portsmouth; and one son, 27, living in Sacramento, Calif., with his wife and four children.

Education? I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth; Bachelor of Religious Studies, Virginia University of Lynchburg – Virginia Seminary (Rev. Melvin Boone’s alma mater); Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Norfolk State University; currently working on Master of Education Degree in the Christian School Program at Regent University.

Career/occupation? Executive Assistant at the Hampton Roads Youth Center, a newly formed residential, educational, and counseling center on Kenyon Road that is opening this fall to serve at-risk teens.

Volunteer activities? Sunday School teacher at Greater First Baptist Church, Orlando; missionary, Nansemond-Isle of Wight Sunday School Union and chairman of its Executive Committee; recent addition to the Baptist Sunday School staff and B.T.U. Congress of Virginia; secretary, Virginia University of Lynchburg Alumni Association – Suffolk Extension; life member of NAACP; chairwoman, Area II NAACP ACT-SO Committee (academic and cultural competition for African-American high school students); member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Suffolk Alumnae Chapter; member of Toastmasters International Suffolk Club 5168 and president-elect, Portsmouth Club 771; personal typist for Mom; personal chauffeur my grandmother and aunt; and part-time wife (according to my husband!)

Favorite thing about Suffolk? Wow! Guess it’s the people – always friendly, always helpful.

Describe your vision of downtown Suffolk five years from now: Lots of places to shop (tired of going &uot;out of town&uot; just to get basic stuff); also see places for family recreation. With so many new neighborhoods springing up all over Suffolk, it would be nice (and beneficial to the city) to have movies, skating, bowling, something for parents to do with their kids.

Why did you pursue your chosen career? Not exactly working in my chosen career right now. My favorite volunteer thing to do is teach Sunday School. I feel that is the calling God has for my life. I enjoy being around kids and exposing them to new things. I would love to have a full-time job in Christian education.

Least favorite thing about your job? Anticipation. Talking about helping kids is one thing, not knowing what it will really be like when they finally arrive makes me nervous. But we have a great team of professionals who know what to do, so I am not

too worried!

What accomplishments are you proudest of? Raising three beautiful, successful children as a single mom, with a lot of help from God and the church we attended.

Who or what motivates and inspires you? My belief that God has placed me here to do something and I had better get it done!

Favorite way to spend free time? Away from telephones, cell phones, televisions, computers, anything electronic. Enjoy just sitting under a tree, perhaps enjoying a good book

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? Something I once heard Tavis Smiley say: &uot;To find your passion in life, decide what it is that you enjoy so much you would do it for free for the rest of your life – then pursue it!&uot;

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? Start with a grain of faith the size of a mustard seed and everything else will fall in place!

We all have our 15 minutes of fame in this life. How would you spend you time in the spotlight? Trying to convince the world that it is not suppose to hurt to be a child. God entrusted them to our care and we as a society are not doing a good job taking care of them.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Get a better grip on time and stop trying to crowd 48 hours into a day that only has 24.