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Local woman continues brother’s legacy through community service

April 10, 2019

Photo credit: City Year Jacksonville

In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting volunteers from the community nominated by the organizations they serve. 

Chelsey Pough, volunteer for United Way partner City Year Jacksonville is described as “a person who steps up and takes action to address a need in the world around them.” For the last three years, Chelsey has dedicated her time and talent to improving her home community of Jacksonville, FL as an AmeriCorps member. From mentoring students in north Jacksonville to helping those living with disabilities thrive, Chelsey’s dedication to creating a stronger Northeast Florida for all is worthy of recognition.

Here’s what Chelsey had to say about her volunteer experience:

What would you say is the most rewarding feeling about volunteering?

The most rewarding feeling about volunteering is the satisfaction I made someone’s life a little easier. Whether it’s helping a student that is afraid to ask questions in fear it will be a ”stupid” question or taking an individual to their vocational rehab appointment, getting them a step closer to getting a job. At the end of the day, I take pride in the happiness of others.

Describe the person or event in your life that inspired you to give back to the community.

My brother, Jerry R. Brown, was the epitome of a giver, he did not mind going above and beyond for youth and anyone else that was in need in his community. He was given the nickname “Superman” because that’s who he was to a lot of people. I lost my brother to senseless street violence on January 28, 2016. He was too good for this world. When he passed away, I vowed I would keep his legacy alive by becoming hands on in our community, especially with the youth. He inspired me to be at my best everyday for those who need me.

Describe a person or event that occurred while volunteering that confirmed your reasoning for volunteering.

When I was serving at The Arc of Jacksonville, I had residents that only responded well to me coming in to do their wellness checks. Wellness checks consisted of checking their homes to make sure they were clean, making sure the residents were washing their clothes, and also checking their fridge to make sure they were throwing away expired foods. I was able to build relationships with these residents and their family members. As I was approaching the end of my two years of service, I was flooded with text messages and personal thank you from the parents of my clients. They let me know the work I was doing was valued and I would be missed.

What key community issue are you passionate about fixing or changing in Northeast Florida?

I was raised with the saying “charity begins at home and then, spreads abroad.” I am most passionate about changing the narrative for the youth on the Northside of Jacksonville. While serving at Northwestern Middle School, I’ve heard students say, “Nobody cares about us here. They all think we are bad.” The youth on the Northside are often forgotten about because of the side of town they live on and the different circumstances they have to face. This creates an atmosphere for hopelessness and fear of failure. I hope to create a place for the youth to come to build their confidence in their academics and receive genuine love and care from people that are familiar with their lifestyles.

What are some lessons volunteering has taught you?

Volunteering has taught me the value of teamwork and how much can be done for those in need when a group of like-minded individuals work together. Before I began working as an AmeriCorps member, I had become frustrated with complacency and having jobs that were meaningless. Making the decision to serve these last three years was the best decision I could have made for myself. Through my service I have become better in tuned with my purpose and what a life as a community advocate can offer me.

How you can help

The movement for a stronger Northeast Florida needs you, too. Join Chelsey in the fight for community change by becoming a volunteer. To learn more, visit unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer.