MDC student Jonathan Wynn-Strachan spent three years of his high school life living in a oneroom Motel Six and other such lodging, sharing cramped quarters with his mother and three younger siblings. His family had found an eviction notice on the front door of their home in the summer of 2012. Three years later – incredibly – Wynn-Strachan was a Wolfson Campus student and had won a community service award handed out by U.S. President Barack Obama. Here’s how that happened. One day, while they were living in the motel, Wynn-Strachan’s mother saw a news story about young students who had won Silver Knight awards. She thought it would be great if her eldest son did something similar and gave back to his community. “I remember sarcastically saying to myself, ‘Ok, so you want to me to go out into the world, pretend that everything is fine, help others and not know how I’m going to help myself. Great, I’ll do that,’” Wynn-Strachan said. The young man was mad at his father, still absent from his life, “because he didn’t care.” Wynn-Strachan was also angry at his mother: “How could she let this happen?” But later that night, he heard Nat King Cole’s song Smile on the radio. The line “Smile though your heart is aching,” Kept ringing through his mind, inspiring Wynn-Strachan to follow his mother’s advice and give back to his community. He created 60 Minutes of Art, a program designed to give free art classes to inner-city youth. MDC students and staff helped women with a New Year’s Eve Event at Lotus House in Overtown Miami led by 60 Minutes of Art Cares, a nonprofit founded by MDC student Jonathan Wynn-Strachan, second from right. Volunteers included, from left, MDC student Diamanté Jones, community member Arty Sanchez, MDC student Tomás Monzón, Wynn-Strachan’s mother Joy Strachan and Monica Matteo-Salinas, who works with MDC’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy. But it wasn’t easy. He sent out thousands of emails to companies, looking for donations to fund his project. Most were simply ignored. In some cases, he got polite rejections. Finally, he switched tactics and asked for art supplies instead of cash donations. “I came home one day and found a box full of art supplies,” he said. “It came with a note that said, ‘Change the world with these supplies.’” Wynn-Strachan was quickly on his way to doing just that, putting smiles on the faces of 25 kids with his first class. Since then, he has worked with hundreds of students, integrating his program all throughout Miami-Dade County. In addition, he is the founder of 60 Minutes of Art Cares, a nonprofit organization designed to provide resources such as food, clothing and shelter to homeless women and children. In the past year, his organization has provided more than 700 meals to needy families while also donating more than 3,000 articles of clothing. Wynn-Strachan, who recently gave a “Ted Talk” in front of 1,500 people at FIU, is on track to graduate in 2019 with an MDC Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, with a focus in nonprofit operations. “Miami Dade College has opened an array of doors for me,” Wynn-Strachan said. “Because of the support of the faculty and staff, they have helped my nonprofit organization grow beyond my wildest dreams.” – WV
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