Sarah-Ashley Andrews of the city's Strawberry Mansion section lost a close friend to suicide when she was 25 years old. That tragedy put her on a life-changing path.
"I wanted to be able to educate people and that kind of changed the trajectory of my life," she said. "I was going to school to be a Mass Communication major and now I found myself with a master's in counseling."
She used her degree to further a non-profit organization called, Dare to Hope. With it, she addresses and encourages conversations about mental health with Philadelphia's inner-city youth. Some residents are in the 3rd grade, others are up to 25 years old.
"To break that stigma that's surrounding it because so many people don't want to talk about it. And especially in the Black community, it's thrown kind of under the rug," she said. "So how can we bring it from under the rug to the forefront? Let's normalize this. Let's have these unrestricted conversations about our mental health because we need it," she said.
With those participating in her assemblies and programs, she does everything from teaching about mental wellness, healthy diets, life skills, conflict resolution, anger management, has COVID-safe zoom discussions, and runs volunteer events like feeding the homeless and random acts of kindness.
"I want that to be the place they know they feel safe at because a lot of these children need a safe space. They just need a safe space to be themselves and to grow in and see who they can become," she said.
She says they have helped and connected with well over 5,000 youth since the start of the organization in 2013.
"We can't help what we go through right? We can't help what we are exposed to, but we can help what we speak life to, and what we speak and how we get help how we change the situation?" she said. "I'm living my life on purpose. I had to go through what I had to go through to get to here so that we can help as many people as we can."