Stacy says she will take key concepts of mentorship and using your assets with her to new job with Charleston County Schools

 By Stacy Brown
Long-term Metanoia Staffer

I began at Metanoia as a volunteer in 2005, when I was also a student at Charleston Southern University. I stayed because of my encounter with one student who told me she did not want to attend college. When I saw her potential, I wanted to change her mind. So, with her capabilities and the guidance of the program and mentorship, she was able to skip a grade, attend a high-performing middle and high school, go to college, and graduate. I realized the power of mentorship.

When you are mentoring youth, you expose them to new experiences while sharing positive values to help them avoid negative behavior and achieve success.

I have a plethora of reasons why I am driven to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. Metanoia is a place where GROWTH is nonnegotiable. I am motivated to help others because I believe in the African philosophy Ubuntu—a concept of common humanity; of “oneness.” It is a form of humanism expressed in the phrase “I am because we are.”

”There are so many benefits of connecting with people and their cultures to learn from each other. We also learn more about ourselves, which in turn creates a more connected society. When people connect, it cultivates a positive, accepting, and culturally diverse society which allows us to embrace multiculturalism and reevaluate old beliefs.

We reflect on what we see as normal or abnormal and challenge ourselves to see the world from new perspectives. That allows society to escape the disadvantages of homogeneity, reduces unnecessary societal fears, and increases creativity and forward-thinking.

The vital role of non-profits

After 16 years working at Metanoia, I understand that nonprofits play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility.

At Metanoia, we have shifted the paradigm by doing “with” and not “for” the residents of the communities we serve. We have an asset-based approach that seeks to build on what is right with people and communities rather than just focusing on their problems.

Asset-based community development (ABCD) substantiates community-driven development. The premise of ABCD is that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilizing existing but often unrecognized assets.

Metanoia’s mission statement also clearly begins with a faith in God and our community. “Metanoia is a movement of people rooted in faith. We invest in neighborhood assets to build leaders, established quality housing, and generate economic development.”

When building a community, we utilize a holistic approach. I find inspiration from working in communities that most people have counted out as disenfranchised, socially and economically deprived, and victims of systemic practices of racism (i.e., redlining, predatory lending, over-policed, and institutionalized racism in education).

Contrary to a dominant narrative that presents these communities as deprived, I experience them as having great tenacity, faith, and strength despite all the odds stacked against them. This allows me to stay inspired and continue to keep a growth mindset in that most people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Taking the lessons of diversity and inclusion with me

As I transition to my next chapter to direct diversity and inclusion initiatives with the Charleston County School District, I will be carrying the spirit of Metanoia. I reflect on the many lessons I have learned from our director Bill Stanfield.

One key lesson has been that ‘growth is non-negotiable.’ Another is ‘eat the elephant one bite at a time.’

I will take with me a community where so many people have shaped my life. I won’t forget starting each meeting led by our COO, Jamilla Harper with the Brave Space poem. She epitomizes how to lead with grace and strength. Also, I can’t forget her so ever many charts that kept us organized and forward-thinking.

Stacy Brown transitioned from her position as Director of Operations for Metanoia’s  Youth Leadership Academy to a new position directing Cultural Competency for the Charleston County School District. She has worked at Metanoia since 2005 when she was 19.

Metanoia has been a long-term major partner of CBFSC since its beginning and Stacy has been around much of that time.

At Metanoia, we have shifted the paradigm by doing “with” and not “for” the residents of the communities we serve. 

What the community has taught me

I can’t forget about the community. The community has taught me so much since starting as a 19-year-old kid. I thought I had all the solutions. I quickly realized empowering people and giving them a voice creates a sense of belonging.

We talk about this at Metanoia as a movement versus an agency approach. One of our parents, Ms. Morris, has displayed the strongest work ethic I have ever seen. She went back to high school to get her diploma while raising six kids, volunteering at Metanoia, and working two jobs. She is now enrolling in college for her BA while her twins graduate this year with honors.

Giving up is not an option and growth is non-negotiable. Metanoia is a place that nurtures the ground so that it will yield a harvest. We value RELATIONSHIP currency just as much as the ability to get a job done which is also prized at Metanoia.

I will continue to work along with my community at Metanoia in my new role at Charleston County School District. I will serve as the Cultural Competency Officer, where I will take the asset-based approach with me “use your assets to solve the problem.”

I will NEVER forget all of my Metanoia family.