Cheering to the Finish
Tim Green, Jr. grew up in Valley Forge Apartments. His neighborhood is that unique space that could be considered Whitehaven or Westwood. He calls it Whitehaven, and honestly, either choice is all good.
Growing up, Tim met a lot of different people from all backgrounds. He bonded with a group of close-knit friends who he was allowed to play with as long as he did so safely. Green is still friends with many of them today. Both sets of his grandparents still live across the street
in that apartment complex today. While Green lived with his mom and sister but belongs to a family of seven, including six girls. Talk about becoming a man in a woman’s world.
Fortunately, Tim split his time equally between his mom in Whitehaven and his dad in Southeast Shelby County, and when it’s the best of both worlds, you love it. He never felt neglected by the separation of mom and dad. It just worked.
And while, as a child, Green not feeling the depth of poverty but still experiencing traces of it throughout his upbringing. “You know how people say they didn’t know they were poor until they got older” well Green relates.
Due to the split upbringing, he was walking a fine line between low-income living and middle class stability. All of these experiences played a significant role in the way he approaches the work he does, today.
You see, the 12-year-old Green loved school and sought every opportunity to get involved any way he could. In 6th grade, he was introduced to an amazing mentor Mr. McKinney. McKinney was his first, black male educator, which turned out to be a defining alignment of the stars. This positive encounter helped pave the way for how he carried himself as a young, black man.
By 7th grade, Green transitioned to John P. Freeman, an optional school where all the other students also had lofty educational endeavors.
As Green was trying to figure out the social construct of middle school, he was preparing for the next quest. So, He began singing in the choir, became involved in science and so much more.
He recalls the impact of a compliment from his English teacher about his attire complimenting elevated his own expectation of dressing for success., and everything about his appearance from that day forward became intentional.
He had been gifted with a powerful inner voice
through nurturing interactions that he could build upon for years to come.
Green explained that even though he had cheerleaders in his corner, he realized not all students were fortunate enough to have such a support system to cheer them on. He goes on to say that by the time students make their transition from middle to high school, it is so important to have good and encouraging people on your side, cheering them toward the finish line.
an excerpt from the forthcoming Anthology‘Our Neighbors, Our Stories: Finding Common Ground…’
story by Carin Malone