Meet Jawara: An inspiration and a reminder that with the right support, anything is possible.
Jawara Griffin 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,” Griffin recalled. “I had never been in a group home. I had to get adjusted to being here (Northern.)”
While living here, Griffin 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, Griffin 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.
After leaving Northern at the age of 17, Jawara attended Mansfield University and the University of South Dakota for his undergraduate and graduate studies respectively, Jawara went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from the University of MA Dartmouth School of Law. Before accepting his current position in Las Vegas as Federal Defender for the District of Nevada, Jawara worked as Federal Public Defender for the Western Tennessee District, and in Baltimore, MD as an Assistant Public Defender in the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.
Now, 45, Griffin 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.”
Griffin, 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.