Jonathan F. Smith is dedicated to providing the renewed outlook on life, so many youth desperately need.
Recognizing the unjust obstacles that hinder too many youth, Smith is on a quest to be a source of hope and guidance.
His passion for cultivating well-rounded youth ultimately led to the creation of LEGACY Foundation.
LEGACY, which is an acronym for: Leadership Empowerment Growth Achievement Comes from our Youth â€“ promotes the concept of children and teens receiving the necessary life skills to excel and eventually mature into quality leaders.
LEGACY presents numerous activities, such as: a theater arts program, mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities, in-depth symposiums, school supply giveaways, in addition to health and fitness projects.
There are a multitude of persons responsible for LEGACYâ€™s steadily expanding influence. Its growth is the blooming of Smithâ€™s well-orchestrated plan to help youths throughout the Kansas City area.
Smithâ€™s desire to assist the youth is not a sudden occurrence. His benevolence was birthed several decades ago. Raised in a single parent home, Smith witnessed first-hand how being active in the community can impact the lives of many.
â€œMy mother and I had talked about having this kind of program. My mother was a school teacher,â€ he said. â€œAs an educator, sheâ€™d visit her students in their homes and in their neighborhoods. Sheâ€™d engage in their life to a point where she would invite them into our home. She was also a foster parent.â€
From those heartfelt conversations came the idea of creating a situation where youth could develop holistically. When Smithâ€™s mother passed away in September of 2008, he became determined to establish a service in which the mindset of youths from underprivileged backgrounds would be addressed.
â€œIt was no time better than that, to start the organization,â€ he acknowledged. â€œI started LEGACY in honor of her. It was the right time and I was in a position to start it. Thatâ€™s why I make sure that LEGACY does things that are in my momâ€™s honor. It does things that she would approve of.â€
Seeing the bigger picture
Smith, who hails from the Northeast region of Wyandotte County near Quindaro Boulevard, is alum of Washington High School.
Smithâ€™s mom often exposed him to life outside his KCK comfort zone. And he now wants to do the same for todayâ€™s youth.
Among the primary tenets of LEGACY is to showcase people, places, events, and opportunities to the youth which theyâ€™re unaccustomed to. Smith desires for adolescents to realize that thereâ€™s more to life than the neighborhood in which they dwell.
Smith understands that once a personâ€™s enthusiasm and hope for success are broadened, theyâ€™ll then become easier to educate. And the likelihood that they will develop into a community leader then increases.
â€œOur kids need a fighting chance. When you learn about (suburban school districts) the students are offered more options and situations which will help them become leaders,â€ he stated. â€œIf our kids donâ€™t know that there are several educational opportunities available â€“ they are being left behind. My goal is to expose them to a wide variety of situations, educational options so they can see another side of life.â€
Smithâ€™s utmost desire is for LEGACY to make a difference in communities across the nation.
â€œThe end goal is to build an organization that makes a difference on a national level. We want to develop leaders who can lead in their schools, and also in the corporate environment â€“ as an adult,â€ he said. â€œToo often, kids from the inner city do not have the resources and are not exposed to situations that will help them develop into leaders.
â€œThe kids are then left with what they are taught in school. Unfortunately, sometimes the schools do not teach them to be leaders. They teach them to be laborers.â€
If you want to learn more about LEGACY or donate to the foundation, there are several options.
Go to www.ourlegacyfoundation.org and click on the donate button to make a one-time donation or to become a monthly donor. Smith also takes donations via mail at: P.O. Box 8193 Kansas City, Mo 64145. The option of lending abilities, specialized skills to LEGACY is also invited. Info on participating with the foundation is listed on the website.