Earlier this week Community Solutions lost a beloved member of our CS Family. John Curtis, known as JP to friends and colleagues in Hampton Roads passed away after a year-long battle with lung cancer. Those of us lucky enough to spend time with JP knew he was one of those people who made the world a better place through his actions, his energy, and his love of people. JP was our creative force. He was our chef who made sure the office always had something homemade and good to eat. He was our decorator who transformed our building from a rather blah environment to a colorful place with inspirational sayings, attractive meeting rooms and even an aquarium. No decorating took place without the comment “Where’s JP?”. He was our lead mentor who always wanted to tackle the hardest and most challenging cases. JP was on a mission to rescue every kid he ever worked with. It was a regular event to see him driving around town with a youth, a lawnmower and snacks to give a kid the opportunity to make some extra cash, be well-fed, and learn the value of work.
No-one at CS had more stories to tell, more positive energy to share, and more dedication to changing lives than JP. He was a successful realtor who came to CS because his lifetime passion was working with at-risk youth to show them a path away from gangs, criminal activity and violence. A road with hope, opportunity and positive change. And in the nearly 4 years he was with us at CS, that’s exactly what he did. He was always full of new ideas to address old problems. His "A Purse of My Own" campaign distributed high-end purses stuffed with cosmetics to victims of domestic violence living in the H.E.R. Shelter. Both the CS youth who worked with JP to prepare the purses, and the lucky women who were the recipients of the purses benefited from this novel idea. He always came to the table with original thoughts about ways we could be a better agency and reach more people.
JP had a great eye for photos and composition, especially people pics. His photos gave us a window to see how he viewed the world we live in. A world filled with friends and people he met along the way. He spoke fondly of the mentors he had known, who influenced him to be the consummate helping professional. His tales of places he visited while in the U.S. Navy were filled with meaningful connections with people from other cultures. Great stories, about his adventures in Japan and other parts of the world he visited. In what has become a bitterly divided country around issues of racial injustice and walls that separate us, JP lived to bring people together. Of all the qualities we admired about JP, that might have been our favorite quality. We shared a belief that all of us living in this world have more in common than qualities that divide us.
Even while battling Stage 4 Cancer and experiencing tremendous pain, he attended every meeting, made every appointment and spent time with every client. He never slowed down; it was always full speed ahead. In that way JP is an inspiration to all of us. In the past 20 years CS has had a long line of dynamic folks come through our front door to work collaboratively to make our community a better place. JP can claim his place at the front of the line. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will be with us forever.