Kevin Upshur of Philadelphia inherited his mother’s neighborhood bar after she passed away. But instead of keeping it as a local watering hole, Upshur decided to transform it into a Strawberry Mansion Learning Center in order to give back to his beloved community.

Upshur’s bar is just a few blocks away from Strawberry Mansion High School, which has a 41% graduation rate (half of the national average). Having graduated from the school himself, Upshur wanted to provide resources to help students finish school. [1]

The Strawberry Mansion Learning Center provides students with computers, healthy meals and a library. He hopes that this will help fill in the gap of a lack of after school activities at the high school, which contributes to youth delinquency and crimes. He hopes that his learning center can help get bored teens off the streets and doing something more productive with their time.

The website states:

“The corner brick building, peeling with manila paint, is an afterschool safe-haven for kids who might otherwise go home to an empty house or neglectful parents—which, inevitably, often leads to street mischief and juvenile crime. The center is much more than a place to do homework: it is a harbor light for young minds adrift in a community lackluster in motivation and positivity. In other words, ‘some hope,’ says Upshur, ‘a roadmap to wherever you want to go.'” [2]

Upshur himself has been a social worker for the past 20 years and still works a day job. He has mentored numerous teenagers over the years. The center doesn’t make any money, but must rely on donations.

He says that sometimes it does get stressful and overwhelming, especially in addition to his 9 to 5 job, but he tries to stay positive.

A friend once told him on a bad day:

“He says, ‘Man, the day you stop is the day something could happen.’ Because some days, I be like ‘Oh my God. What am I going to do? How am I going to do this?’” Upshur recalled. “But I always remember he says, ‘Keep going because something good can happen. [You can] save a kid’s life.'”

These words motivate him to continue his work.

Sources:

[1] Huffington Post

[2] Strawberry Mansion Learning Center


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About Anna Scanlon:
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.