Jeremiah: Mentors for a Lifetime
“This was the best place I always wanted to be. There was never anywhere else.”
Jeremiah Williams came to live at Northern Children’s Services (then Northern Home for Children) when he was just 10 years old in the late 1980’s. Northern was his home until he was 17 years old.
“It was scary,” Williams recalled. “I had never been in a group home. I had to get adjusted to being here (Northern.)”
While living here, Williams recalled a time that he met his father on Memorial Day. They sat down and looked at picture and he remembered his father telling him he’d get him out of Northern one day. While that day never came, Williams found mentors in the staff that worked there and to this day comes back to visit those that still work here, including Kevin Weber, now the Director of Volunteerism and Recreation.
His favorite memories while living at Northern are much like those of others who have come back to tell their stories, which include camping trips and the gymnasium. But it was his mentors that made the most impact on him. Those people included Robert Thornton, Tyrone Ward and Kevin Weber.
“They kept me up,” Jeremiah said. “I didn’t have any family to go home to. They led me on the right path and I appreciated that so much.”
While at Northern, Williams attended Roxborough High School and boasted that that his 7th period Home Economics class was his favorite class, mainly because he learned how to cook. His most prized project? A mouth-watering Jewish Apple Cake that he learned how to bake.
After leaving Northern at the age of 17, Williams moved to Baltimore for five years working in brick-laying.
Now, 40, Williams is grateful for his experience at Northern. He explained that the entire experience taught him structure and was a constant affirmation that everything was going to be alright, despite any chaotic moments in his life.
When asked what he would tell the children and youth of Northern Children’s Services today, he responded, “Keep your head up. Listen to them (staff). They are only going to steer you right.”
Williams received the Alumni Award from one of his mentors, Kevin Weber, at this year’s 11th Annual Children’s Awards, which was hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. The Alumni Award is awarded to individuals who have left Northern and went on to be outstanding members of society.
Williams, like many others who have left Northern to do great things, are an inspiration and a reminder that with the right support system, anything is possible and you will make it in life.