If you’ve worked in the Kanawha Valley over the past few years on anything relating to youth leadership development, entrepreneurship or community improvement, you knew Obi Henderson.
Obi first came to Charleston from Chicago, stopping first in Alabama for college and landing in our state through the AmeriCorps program.
And once he once he got here, it was hard to remember a time before Obi was leading community improvement activities in the city. He entered our community with the energy and charisma of a natural-born leader and entrepreneur.
He was someone who loved West Virginia like he was from here – he saw the good and the potential in the place and the people, and worked hard every day to uplift those things and to amplify the potential of our region.
Obi was involved in more things that you could keep track of, starting multiple initiatives, businesses and activities. And all were driven by his goal to give back to his community, and build a better community that prioritized supporting local youth and giving them leadership development opportunities to build brighter futures.
Much of what he did was in service of his Dream Chasers youth mentoring program. Dream Chasers was focused on working with at-risk youth to increase leadership skills, public speaking, and entrepreneurship development.
The goal was to “Mold Leaders and Humanitarians.” It was a successful program in large part because of the love, guidance and mentorship that Obi provided individually to the youth in the program, and the mentoring he facilitated from numerous community leaders he connected with his group.
The public outpouring of sadness over Obi’s passing on Monday only hints at what a huge impact he left on our place. He leaves a hole that cannot be filled, and those of us who had the joy to know him and work with him will have to figure out how to keep moving forward his dreams and his spirit to honor his memory.
In that spirit, we encourage everyone to donate to the Dream Chasers program to ensure that this important program continues, and to donate to Obi’s family to help them cover these unexpected and tragic expenses.
It’s a small offering for someone who gave so much to our community.