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Giving Back: Taraya Wright
TARAYA WRIGHT was no stranger to life at “the bottom”, the nickname for the neighborhood where she grew up in West Philadelphia. Despite her dark surroundings, Taraya was motivated to rise up. She achieved top grades and was chosen to rub shoulders with fellow high school alum, Will Smith, at an event for high-achievers in her graduating class. Without accessible, positive role models though, her determination to succeed had to come from within. The other force that stirred within Taraya was the resolve to help others rise as well. Looking back, Taraya says she asked herself, “where was someone like me, for someone like me?”
She decided to be the kind of person that she wished she had known when she was young. “I don’t know why, I’ve just always felt devoted to helping people,” she says. Taraya views her life experience as a bridge to the population she serves in her work as a social worker. “Growing up in poverty, you don’t know anything else but how to survive.” she says. “I was from the hood before I got any of my college degrees. That’s always going to be a part of me.”
With the word “Altruist” tattooed on her body, and a devotion to helping others cemented in her spirit, Taraya has dedicated her career to advocating for women and children in need. “I understand that this could be me; I could be in this situation, and that empathy helps me know what to do” she says. Through her work at Clare House, Taraya takes satisfaction in walking alongside women and helping open their eyes to the possibility of a better life. Extremely knowledgeable and connected, Taraya can point her clients to every service provider in the community. She inspires the women she works with to imagine a stable, successful life and empowers them with strategies and resources to achieve it. The most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing women complete the six month program and move into their own space, working toward the life they want.
Preferring to work behind the scenes in an empowering role, Taraya shies away from accolades but hopes to be an example in the community of what can be achieved when we come alongside each other. “The moment we can stop criticizing people for whatever decisions they’ve made, we can start really helping people.” For Taraya, helping people by meeting them where they are and helping them see a way forward, is a powerful way of giving back.