In September of 1994, Maggie Wright walked through the doors of Newark Do Something for the first time to hand in her application for the organization’s leadership course. She was friendly and articulate, but had no idea at the time that it was the first of many actions she would take to make her city a better place to live.
In December 1994, Wright finished the course and went back to her neighborhood and church in Newark’s West Ward and continued the work she had been doing for decades – organizing block watches, neighborhood parties, service projects, and any event that would bring the community together. She would come to events that Newark Do Something would organize, recommend dozens of people to take the leadership course, and always mobilize volunteers whenever asked, sometimes overnight.
In the spring of 1997, Wright started spending more time at the Do Something house. Although she was in her sixties and raising and eight-year-old boy, the last of many she brought into her home, she found more than 20 hours each week to help the organization carry out its mission of training, funding and mobilizing the city’s young leaders. She answered phones and stuffed envelopes, of course, but made it clear that those duties were not where her talents ended. In the beginning of the summer, she took the lead on what would be the organization’s largest project to date, and helped them bring together more than 600 neighborhood leaders from around the city in Newark’s follow-up to the President’s Summit. She handled logistics, outreach, volunteer recruitment, and cooking for the entire group. Her success in organizing the Newark Summit paved the way for much new collaboration that exist in the city today.
Today, Wright and her son reside in the Do Something house. She agreed, at the end of that summer, that in exchange for the two bedrooms, she would work fifteen hours a week as the office manager. But, she has yet to work less than 40 hours a week. She recruits volunteers to run the office, conducts outreach and recruitment to young people for our Leadership Course and Small Grants program, takes the lead on organizing special events, and most importantly, holds as her top priority the responsibility of ensuring that the Do Something house is a welcoming and safe place for the young leader who are working the make the city a better place.
Maggie Wright recognized long before Do Something began that young people are an untapped resource who have the power and energies to be leaders and make the city better; she now dedicates her days and evenings to ensuring that they have the opportunity to do just that.