HHF Outreach Coordinator
"Helping one person gives me the fire to keep moving forward."
“It was tough,” Drevell says of his childhood growing up on the lower eastside of Erie. Now a proud father, husband, and a valued HHF staff member whose work is garnering the attention of UPMC executives and Erie community leaders alike, Drevell is what many would consider a rising young professional. But, his life wasn’t always so rosy.
The oldest of five siblings, Drevell’s childhood was tumultuous. His family moved frequently, yet never out of the disinvested neighborhoods on Erie’s east side. His dad was in and out of prison, and his mom did her best under the challenging circumstances. Thankfully, Drevell had a beloved grandmother, Mema, whose house became a refuge and whose presence meant safety and stability.
When Drevell was just 11 years old, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Eight years later, she succumbed to her illness. Drevell was in college at the time, studying broadcasting and mass communication at Baldwin Wallace University. He asked Mema if he should quit school and return home to help care for his youngest siblings, but Mema patently refused. She wanted him to stay in school to keep working toward his dreams.
He did just that, battling through the emotional recourse of his mother’s passing. Less than a year later, the passing of his father further unmoored him. To help him through his grief and disbelief, Drevell sought solace in his friends, Mema, and his girlfriend, Rosa.
He graduated college in 2015, but the dreams Mema encouraged him to chase proved more elusive than he expected. The jobs he landed after college felt meaningless. Drevell and Rosa moved back to Erie, and Drevell continued to feel unfulfilled in his work.
He eventually called Boo Hagerty, the father of a childhood friend who Drevell was always fond of. After meeting for lunch, Drevell was offered a role at HHF as a Community Outreach Coordinator. In this position, Drevell interfaces with community members living in impoverished neighborhoods to discover their unmet needs. Sometimes this requires going door-to-door in his former stomping grounds, other times it’s cold calling people. His experiences during this work have changed his entire perspective on life. He developed a deeper understanding of the struggle of others, the complexities of life in poverty, and a solemnity regarding the barriers many people face to improving their lives – especially those without resources or support systems (like Mema).
In helping others, Drevell has found the meaning and fulfillment he was searching for, and it motivates him. “Helping one person gives me the fire to keep moving forward,” he shares.