Friend, Rakim Isaacs, started his journey at Friends–NY in September of 2018, after just graduating from City College of New York. Rakim has lived in Harlem his whole life. Growing up in a single-parent home, Rakim’s father was absent his whole life, which left him absent of a strong male figure in the home. Despite not having his father around, Rakim’s mother acted as a strong role model and was adamant about teaching Rakim to always do the right thing and to stay true to himself. Throughout his childhood, Rakim saw many families and businesses displaced by gentrification and understood from a young age how gentrification was impacting the heart of his community. Passionate about staying in Harlem and giving back to the next generation of youth, Rakim came to Friends–NY to serve as a Friend. Rakim serves as a strong male figure in many of his Achiever’s lives and works every day to give them the opportunity to continue to live and work in the community they grew up in.
As a lifelong native of Harlem, Rakim is no stranger to the challenges that young African American males face in his community. For Rakim, the most important thing for him to teach his Achievers is to express their feelings. In Harlem, there is a strong stigma within the African American community for boys to be tough and to not express their feelings. For Rakim’s friends, this often led to pent up frustration and an inability to understand and process their emotions. Rakim’s mother encouraged him to express himself and to understand how to manage his emotions. “I work with my boys to help them express their emotions and to show them how they are loved and cared for. When I express my feelings, it helps them to open up and share their own.”
Rakim is an exemplar Friend and a great role model for his Achievers. We look forward to watching him grow here at Friends–NY and seeing his impact on the next generation unfold.