February 11th, 2008 10:52 EST
LaShelle Turner interviews Speaker, Writer Deremiah *CPE
Speaker, Deremiah *CPE took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his goal of helping at-risk children. He has taken on the admirable goal of raising 100 million dollars for this cause. I wanted to know more about what drives him as an individual to take on such a large feat.
LaShelle: Your goal is uplifting children in this country and abroad. What drives you in your pursuit to change the lives of our children?
Deremiah: More than anything, I`ve discovered the secret to what drives me to change the lives of children are hidden deeply in dozens of wonderful past experiences during my most difficult times in childhood. To be quite honest with you, I don`t change the lives of children they change their own lives. I just act as their exuberant mentor to facilitate change. So, it is my past that pushes me...driving me toward new adventures everyday and great opportunities to compel common people, teachers, board members, NFL athletes, plus corporate women and men in our local communities to do what is right on the behalf of hurting children. These are the children who are depressed, suicidal, gang/drug ridden, abandoned, forgotten and often uninspired. Their numbers seem to be growing at larger proportions daily and many of their failures are due to over-worked adults who lack the same vision of the great women and men who inspired me during my childhood. Men like Jim Queen, stepped in our lives and rescued us from the last of several painful evictions that my mother, who was on welfare and emotionally depleted, could not. Jim Queen also led me to the steps of North Park College which is now North Park University and took it on himself along with a very helpful and receptive community of loving Swedish people who allowed me entry into their amazing school even though I was not qualified to attend. Then there was a Senn High School counselor named Mrs. Shaunette who has since passed away. She helped me pay for my gym uniform, bought me new leather Converse gym shoes and socks during a time when I could not afford it. I was too embarrassed to tell others, for nearly two weeks, that my mother could not afford it. There were dozens of others who I`ll just mention: Pastor O`Dell White Sr. who was ridiculed by some of his church members because he paid our family`s first month rent with church funds so that we would have somewhere to stay instead of allowing our family to be put on the streets; my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, who encouraged me to keep my head up and blessed me with a beautiful birthday present full of the poetry of Helen Steiner Rice; Swede Roskam, a business visionary who got corporations like Nabisco, Allied Van Lines, WW Grainger and Brachs Candy to finance my college education through scholarships and then hired me after college to become the first paid employee of his company, Educational Assistance Limited, a company that sponsors the education of young people through bartering; Dick Jaffee, Chairman of Oil Dri Corporation of America,who paid my salary while I worked as a sales/accountant for EAL.
LaShelle: You traveled the world early on in your childhood and experienced other cultures. You write about how this allowed you to be more open-minded. Do you believe that children are products of the experience or environment?
Deremiah: It`s easy for us to clearly see that environment shapes children, but what almost all people easily miss is that thoughts shape our environment and our experience. So to put it accurately, I believe that children are a product of thought.
LaShelle: How can we improve the environment of many inner-city children growing up in single parent homes and living in poverty?
Deremiah: This is a major problem for which there are no quick fixes. With a substantial amount of money we could easily change the environment, but let`s remember that the environment is a reflection...a mental manifestation of the state of mind of the people who live in it. It`s the *EW ---Environment Within--- that we need to change first. It`s the same with the problem of poverty. Politicians are always talking about giving the people more jobs, but the problem isn`t jobs because poor, hard-working people with a good mental state of health and work ethic will, with diligence, create good jobs and uproot poverty. What bad environments and poverty have done for most is given them a poor mental bank of thoughts. These thoughts create an *EW when rooted in habit and repetition entrench the poverty into inner-city children. Early on my exposure to poverty, but then through world travel, I gained an exposure to wealth that expanded my understanding greatly. This in itself is the master key to improving inner-city children. Snatch them out of poverty and then immediately expose them to other world explorations early in life.
LaShelle: A majority of children living in poverty and crime live without hope or encouragement. What is the first step in changing the mindset about their future?
Deremiah: Instilling hope, reinforcing the practical steps to having a good thought life, showing children how to understand the realities of cause and effect so they can see clearly how to make good choices, establishing inner vision, then exuberantly encouraging often with praise and love is the beginning of the first steps I use to change any child. My challenge to the world...give me your most troubled child for 30 days and, with the formula above, I can change any child forever...the good news is I haven`t failed yet and I`ve mentored thousands of children in and from inner cities. The only thing I need to do now is to raise the necessary funding to begin to create these residential campuses all over the world.
LaShelle: You work with children. How do they view the concept of being successful in America?
Deremiah: Most children in America measure success very, very poorly like most adults. They measure their success in the things they would like to have or do have constantly missing the real things they should value. Things like happiness, joy, peace of mind; harmony, healthy determined attitude, good judgment and a love for God are the real measurements for the success-minded.
LaShelle: Have our children given up the idea of the American dream or have they given up hope they will ever reach it?
Deremiah: It`s clearly easy to see that our children have not given up their hope or desire for the American Dream. You can hear it in the lyrics of Hip Hop and R&B recording artist and see it thrive in every other media element reproduced including the messages of Televangelist these days. But I`m sorry to say that the American dream, which used to be pure and chaste, has now been distorted by the views of their peers, television, books, movies, magazines and radio. All this has happened right before our eyes in the absence of good parenting that has truly hurt the chances of many of our children ever achieving the American Dream.
LaShelle: This generation is exposed to fame and fortune more than any other. How does popular culture play into the attitudes of today`s youth?
Deremiah: To be quite candid, Pop Culture has had a terrible influence on the attitudes of today`s youth. When you can watch as much FREE porn as you`d like on the Internet, simulated sex on TV, eye candy videos, the degrading of women by men in Hip Hop songs, the self-degrading imagery and communication of women toward other women, the reduction of the image of women into symbols of sex you can easily see what the struggle for fame and fortune will create. The Hustler, the Player, the Pimp, the Drug Dealer and the Prostitute have all become archetypes of the imagery of fame and fortune. These once disappointing role models have now all become the glorified life styles being portrayed and imitated by our youth. Couple that with the glamorous images being exalted daily in the newspaper or TV by the political archetype who raises ridiculous amounts of money to achieve ever glorifying levels of public appeal or the exalted lifestyle of the Athlete or the ever appealing images of the Corporate CEO and you`ve got fame and fortune spinning around your poor little young mind faster than the sun can rise and set.
LaShelle: Your childhood provided you with the chance to go beyond the boundaries of the inner city. How do we teach our children to think globally rather than domestically, or from just focusing on people who look like them?
Deremiah: Inspiring our children to expand their appreciation for other cultures that are different from theirs will help them to go beyond the boundaries of the inner city. Giving them experiences that cause them to see the truth of their relationships with others opens the locked doors in their minds that previously held them captive. Challenging them to explore the cultural similarities without holding biases or pre-judging their experiences before they truly experience them is also the key to integrating them with the global economy of the world.
LaShelle: Do we get them to dream beyond the walls of their hoods, projects or streets, so to speak?
Deremiah: This is simple. Teach them to serve those within their community and, simultaneously, have them meet the needs of others. As this grows, reward them for their contributions to others and you will inadvertently cause them to dream of the greater ways in which they can serve the world.
LaShelle: Raising 100 million dollars is a very ambitious project? Do you feel overwhelmed or ever think you may never reach your goal?
Deremiah: It`s become quite evident and very clear to me that within me is the ability to produce 100 Million dollars if I have to. Feeling overwhelmed about what I know I am capable of doing has never been a part of my thinking process. Once you rule out that you cannot fail then and only then do you gain the momentum to succeed. When I determine with exact decisiveness that ---I can do it! Yes I can do this thing--- it seems the road to getting there begins to pull me toward it like a high-powered magnet. I`ve determined in my mind that I can raise 100 Million dollars for children and, by George, I`m going do it rather than listen to all the excuses.
LaShelle: The Black community is plagued by high HIV rates and out of wedlock births. Also, high dropout, high incarceration, homicide and suicide rates are affecting young black males in these communities. How you do get to the core of what is failing so many of our young people?
Deremiah: It`s really quite easy to see the core of what is causing our young people to fail and that is our inability to teach them how to serve one another. Through this simple act you prove to them that there is a promise of the future and this instills within them the hope that is necessary to continue to change and grow. Teaching our young people how to value their thought life will lead to enhancing the value of their life. Showing them how to give love to those who are hurting, how to show gratitude and how to be diligent is at the very foundation of dealing with the types of things that will cause them to flourish.
LaShelle: You wrote in your column on The Student Operated Press about being revolutionary in 2008. How do you encourage our young people to be revolutionary in the way they live out their lives?
Deremiah: Young people need to be reminded that the revolutionaries of the past were bold and prepared to be courageous upon a moment`s notice. They weren`t afraid to do what is right even to the degree that they were willing to die for what they believed. The American Revolutionaries were quick to stand up on behalf of the colonies. We can teach our youth that, like the revolutionaries, our care and concern for the community must make a difference.
LaShelle: You speak about vision and using our God-given talents. How do we teach our children to seek out God`s vision for their lives and how to discover and use their God given talents?
Deremiah: The vision of a creatively powerful God is within us waiting to be unfolded. Withhold this awareness from the child and you extract the very foundational purpose that reflects God within them. When a child`s vision is absent of their creator, they become a wondering, lost soul. It`s like a DVD without a DVD player or a rose bush that has no where to be planted...it has no purpose. Without purpose, there is no reason for its existence. Without a reason for existence, there is no passion to live and without passion for life, it`s only a matter of time before the poor lost human being destroys itself. When we reveal to the child their true reason for existence...to love and serve God through loving and serving each other... they no longer feel like an empty void but a purposeful human being full of every reason and excuse to discover their God given talents. As they seek to know their true selves they uncover the hidden mysteries of life and then they are exposed to greater success. This greater success reveals deeper hidden talents and as the child reproduces these gifts and gives them away to the world, more gifts surface.
Charismatic is not a strong enough word to describe Deremiah *CPE. He is a man with a message of hope and encouragement for this generation. He has taken on the admirable goal of changing the lives of young people.
Deremiah is one of those unique individuals who never meets a stranger. His touching words are those of a lifelong friend. More than a motivational speaker, he is a man of action. There is no doubt he will reach his goal of raising 100 million dollars for at-risk children who desperately need it.