In the latest edition of Ocean Drive, Brett Graff features Desmond Meade, who thanks to the Chapman Partnership has ascended to a position of leadership where he can fulfill his goal to help those less fortunate.
Desmond Meade is the current president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), and a third-year law student at Florida International University College of Law.
Chasing the Law
It’s noon on a Thursday afternoon in Miami, and Desmond Meade, a third-year law school student at Florida International University, is preparing for a presentation he’ll give at a convention criticizing the state’s push to privatize prisons. It may sound like Meade is taking a natural step for an overachieving law student, but nothing about his climb to this situation was particularly likely. Just about a decade ago, Meade was homeless, suffering from a chronic substance abuse problem, and contemplating suicide.
“If someone would have told me, ‘Desmond, don’t jump in front of those trains because you’re going to serve on boards and get into law school and meet the president of the United States,’ well, I wouldn’t have believed him,” says Meade, now 45.
Chapman Partnership, founded by former Knight-Ridder CEO Alvah H. Chapman, guided Meade’s ascent to a position of leadership. The nonprofit organization houses and empowers the homeless to achieve self-sufficiency. Residents are required to take active roles in their rehabilitations, attending classes and doing chores around the facility. A caseworker motivates each adult to tackle the debilitating issue at hand, such as a layoff, health problem, or substance abuse. The treatment is monitored weekly, and the average stay for residents is 47 to 60 days. “Sustainable income is what we’re after,” says Dan Vincent, Chapman Partnership executive director. About 63 percent of participants become gainfully employed.