Doing her part in the community to better the lives of the Hartford homeless is a passion of Jodyann Fuller, a sophomore at Achievement First Hartford Academy.
The nonprofit group she’s part of, Our Piece of the Pie (OPP), assists in food pantries around the city, says the 15-year-old aspiring pediatrician.
When she is not at home cleaning and cooking or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, Jodyann is on the streets, talking to the less fortunate of Connecticut’s capital city and discussing plausible solutions to the homelessness crisis. OPP works to get urban youth involved in their economy and community, according to its website.
“I really like helping people, especially who are in need,” Jodyann says. “We’ve learned a lot of ways that people can be homeless,” she said, calling the situation “devastating.” She says she thinks “the government should try and fund more programs to help the homeless.”
The group watches movies such as “The Pursuit of Happiness,” the story of a homeless man and his young son, and talks about them afterwards. Jodyann’s love for helping people is evident not only here, but when she is tutoring younger students at school and helping them set up for school parties.
Although she has some issues with the school itself, she admits that it has offered her plenty of life lessons.
One thing she’s learned there from her peers is the importance of staying loyal to your friends. “To be honest, I’ve learned that people will stab you in the back. You will grow up with people and then they want to follow the leader,” the fashion forward teenager says.
“I do whatever I want. You can’t tell me who I can and can’t talk to.”
This stems from Jodyann’s goal to be happy in life. As she brushes the braids out of her hair, she said she feels “a lot of pressure” to finish college because she would be the first of her six siblings to do so.
Another goal? To get into Harvard to make her parents, Leroy and Joy Fuller, proud. This may be especially so because Joy Fuller was recently injured at her former job at a chef at an East Hartford rehabilitation center in East Hartford.
Jodyann says she does not associate much with her siblings and admits that she often finds herself “trapped” in the house by her strict parents. She says of her siblings on her mom’s side, Natalie, 27, and Damien, 28, “even though I don’t talk to them they are still family. I still have to love them.”
As she looks ahead to 10th grade in the fall, Jodyann plans to uphold her reputation as a good student. There may not have been any AP classes offered for freshmen at her school, but it is a new year after all.
With her bright smile and attitude, she’s optimistic about what the year may have in store for her.
Kate Ariano is a student at Trumbull High School.