From Business Pitch to Social Entrepreneur — Lawrence White

Yesterday, while I was on the “Eastside” of town, going from the Learning Bank to the Oak of Righteousness Church warming shelter, I had the opportunity to engage Mr. Lawrence White in a conversation. You see, Mr. White placed second in our inaugural Business Pitch competition two years ago. I recall that Mr. White’s idea had to do with real estate and development. It appears that he is involved in development of the “Eastside” of town, more as a social entrepreneur.

Now, before I expound on what Mr. White is doing, let me tell you a little about the “Eastside” – the “other side of the tracks”. I live on the eastside (small ‘e’ but close enough) of Monroe, granted, I do not live on the other side of the tracks, so it would not be true if I said I live on the real “Eastside”. The actual “Eastside” is a neighborhood with a large African-American and Hispanic population, Orchard High School (Monroe’s alternative high school), the Arthur Lesow Community Center, Navarre Library, the Learning Bank, Oaks of Righteousness Church, and other African-American churches, the Salvation Army, two community gardens, and much more.

The “Eastside” is a lower income area, has worse roads than the rest of Monroe and in need of much more development. Now, back to Mr. White. Mr. White has purchased an entire block of land and has worked with the community to convert half of that block into a community garden that is verdant with all kinds of vegetables. He told me that the local police department provided the water spigots for the garden.  What a wonderful collaboration. It is a joy to see community members of all ages and races tending to their gardens at all hours of the day. The garden has a social, cultural and economic impact on the community.

Mr. White is African-American, young (about my age – yes, young!), and committed to making a difference in his community. He is also still a Monroe County Community College Student whose life has been enriched and transformed by this College. His next project is to develop a farmer’s market and purchase additional land to further develop the “Eastside”. An entrepreneur whose involvement in our Business Pitch competition served as a catalyst for his social entrepreneurial spirit and efforts.  I told Mr. White how proud I was of him and his efforts to develop the “Eastside”. His response, “I have no choice but to do my college proud; I am putting my education to good use”. MCCC, enriching and transforming lives and whole communities, that’s our mission.

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