THE ANANIZACH STORY
ANANIZACH (pronounced ĂN-Ă-NĪ-ZĂK) was created to honor two family members of founder Jeannette Simon. Tragically both young men were lost to murder.
On September 5, 2012, Zachary, my nephew, was gunned down on the streets of Charlotte, NC as the Democratic National Convention was taking place in another part of town. Sadly, his family never had a chance to say goodbye. On July 15, 2012, less than two months before this tragedy, Zachary attended church and whole heartily committed his life to God. Zachary, with aspirations to make his mark in the music industry was only 25.
HE NEVER GOT TO MEET HIS SON WHO WAS BORN 6 MONTHS LATER.
On November 24, 2015, my 17-year-old grandson, Ananias Jolley, was stabbed in his biology class by one of his own classmates. He was a senior in high school with big dreams of becoming an architect. He died December 20, 2015. The loss of Ananias' easy going nature and fun loving spirit created a tremendous void in the school. His classmates created the mantra "Graduate for Jolley"; the principal printed the mantra on sweatshirts and distributed them to Renaissance Academy students and staff. In June 2016, Ananias' older brother Santonio graduated from Renaissance Academy carrying his brother's empty gown with him. The school had the highest graduation rate in the entire city.
Two months prior to the loss of Ananias, my dear 92-year-old mother who I with the help of my sister Wanda and daughter Tiffany lovingly cared for, was called Home. I was by her side when she took her last breath. During the weeks prior to her passing her sons Fred and Greg and other family members were able to spend precious time with her. They celebrated and remembered all she had done to make us feel so very loved. Ananias attended his great-grandmother's service, connecting with family he had not seen in over 10 years.
On March 24, 2016, I was released from my job, small potatoes I thought compared to my most recent losses. I believed this all part of a divine plan and that I was meant to move on, but not quit!
I TOOK MY FAITH AND GRIEF (INCLUDING A LOT OF ANGER) ALONG WITH MY PASSION AND EXPERIENCE FOR MENTORING AND CREATED ANANIZACH.
ANANIZACH, I pray will help my family and me heal. We cry when and wherever but through our pain and grief we have learned to laugh. We reluctantly accept our lives will never be the same, a hard pill to swallow. We know the pain will always be there; we are learning to manage it. In honor of the loved ones lost, we will persevere.
I will work diligently to try to keep other families from experiencing what we continue to endure. I will work through mentoring to help young people realize and recognize their worth. My dream is that all people will respect the lives of others and themselves and will pass this belief on to the next generation. I pray that we will stamp out these senseless acts of violence that scar those left behind.
I PRAY….. I PRAY…..
Mentoring I know is not the "be all end all" to the challenges our society faces but done correctly, it can make a difference.
THROUGH ANANIZACH I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
On the anniversary of the stabbing of Ananias, we premiered a video, DORAP, at Renaissance Academy. My family worked with the Renaissance Academy principal, students, mentors, staff and partners to create the video. DORAP is a tribute to the students lost during 2015-2016 school year and a testament to the determination and resiliency of a community that endured.
THIS PROJECT WAS A STEP WE ALL TOOK TOGETHER TO CONTINUE OUR HEALING PROCESS.
As I began to bring ANANIZACH into existence, I tapped the wisdom and knowledge of family members including Zachary's father, my brother, Greg. Although he loved the name, believes in the work, he wanted more for the name. After several brainstorming conversations, tough for Greg (brother sister inside joke), we decided that each letter of ANANIZACH should carry its own meaning. Next, I had to tap the mind of my creative son Q. We found the words needed to define what ANANIZACH stands for. These words represent the characteristics I hope youth will develop and embrace as they mature and prepare to take their rightful place in society.
Authentic Noble Aspirational Nurturing Inspirational
Zealous Accomplished Confident Honorable