• Gianna

#44 "Kevin’s mom, Shirley, believed in him"

There is a quote from author Josh Shipp that states, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” Take a minute to think about who your caring adult is or may be. Is it someone who believed in you, someone who pushed you in the right direction, someone who was a role model – a parent, a teacher, an aunt, a coach, a boss? Grounds of change interviewee, #44, Kevin Upshur, is that caring adult for many children.

Before we learn more about Kevin’s caring, let’s look at who cared for Kevin. Kevin’s mom, Shirley, believed in him. As a kid, she helped him get his first job at a local beer distributor. He was paid one dollar to sweep the floor. As Kevin grew into a teenager, his responsibilities at the beer distributor grew with him. He took orders, helped with carryout, took inventory and even made deliveries. While interviewing Kevin, I could tell that his mom’s belief that he could do the job was very important to him. She pushed him to do it and taught him the value of hard work - that is what he wanted me to understand.

After graduating high school, Kevin began helping his mother at a bar she had purchased in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia. While working there, they watched the rate of drugs, robberies, and gun violence increase in his city. His mother would always tell him that he needed to make a difference for the children in his area. 

After a decline in business, they had an idea to turn the family owned bar into a learning center for the local children. Unfortunately, Kevin’s mother passed away before seeing the bar become the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center ( The SMLC is an afterschool safe haven for kids who might otherwise go home to an empty house or difficult living situations. Youth from Strawberry Mansion can come to the center after school to do homework, discuss current events, and get a kickstart on the path to a positive future. 

Kevin radiates love for the children who come to the center. He wants them to “grow up knowing that they can be successful and that they can make a change in the community.” Kevin and the other adults at the center become positive role models for the kids. My guess is that if you asked a few of the children who was the first person to believe in them, and they didn’t have a response before they started going to the center, they do now. 

I have no idea if Kevin has ever heard Josh Shipp’s “every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story” quote. However, I do know that Kevin is a living example of it. No child will leave Strawberry Mansion Learning Center without knowing that one caring adult. 

If you can, send a thank you to the person that believed in you, pushed you in the right direction, or became your positive role model. They are probably part of the reason you made it to where you are. Secondly, realize that you can be the caring adult that lights the way for another child out there. Please do not take this lightly. 

Have a great day Grounds of Changers!

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