Breaking Barriers: Dreifus Smith making a difference in his communityBy JYESHA JOHNSON MULTIMEDIA COORDINATOR,
Dreifus Smith is finding different ways to pay it forward as the founder of Fresh Start Community Program. “I want to help younger people exceed further than what they see in life, or further than what they see in the mirror,” said Smith.
“Sometimes we need that push, so I put myself in that position to let them young people know of that push and that press that they have, that nobody can see or feel but themselves,” said Smith.
Smith says that is how the Fresh Start Community Program came about.
Smith also works as a correctional officer at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, which is a maximum-security prison farm.
“I tell the inmates on my job, that you guys are my motivation because I see what you guys go through so I come back home and tell them to straighten your life out because you only have two choices, right or wrong” said Smith.
The Fresh Start Community program has been a part of other community outreaches to stop the violence in Indianola. Most recently, they handed out candles and hot tea during a cool evening protest that included a candlelight vigil.
The program has many forms of community outreach from marching, mentoring programs to fun days.
“If you want to bring awareness to something or get something done, you just can’t sit down.” said Myiesha Smith, a member of Fresh Start Community Program. “You have to go out and tell people about different stuff and inform them about what’s going on in the community.”
The Fresh Start 100 Men Scholarship Walk gave young men the opportunity to receive a $300 scholarship by writing an essay on the importance of a male role model in the community. “I said you know what, let’s do something for the guys.”
There is also a mentoring program that meets weekly or biweekly.
“We try to encourage the young people to just be the best and encourage them to succeed in life,” said Smith. “You know, try to be a productive community.”
Alicia Carpenter, a senior from Gentry has been a part of Fresh Start Community Program for a year.
“Fresh Start really helps me look at life a little differently, being a teenager,” said Carpenter. “You have different people in the organization that really help you when you are going through things.”
Carpenter enjoyed most as a member of Fresh Start Community Program, the opportunity to speak to middle school girls in Memphis.
Fresh Start Community Program’s community outreach reaches beyond Indianola. Smith also visits schools to give students words of motivation.
His most memorable speaking engagement was in Memphis, to around 300 students. Smith says he persisted even though the students weren’t as receptive as he imagined.
“Just because you are doing something positive, you still are going to have bumps in the road,” said Smith. “You have to go through those bumps just to fulfill a purpose.”
Smith says the Fresh Start Community Program spoke to over one thousand students in 2019. He looks forward to more success in 2020.
This year they are planning on having a fun day in North Memphis in collaboration with Raleigh-Egypt Middle School and Raleigh-Egypt High School. They will also hold their annual 100 Men Fresh Start Walk.
They will also have a millenial night of Praise.
“We expect some great things, and the best is yet to come for the Fresh Start family,” said Smith.