Julius Boatwright is the founder and CEO of Steel Smiling, a nonprofit mental health resources provider serving Pittsburgh’s residents, communities and underserved neighborhoods. From barber shops to churches to libraries, Steel Smiling’s unique approach aims to eliminate barriers that prevent people from actively seeking and receiving ongoing and adequate mental and behavioral health care. Originally from Farrell, PA, Julius also serves as executive director of the Will Allen Foundation. A licensed social worker and who is certified in mental health first aid, Julius lives in Beechview with his fiancée Lauren Stoner and their dog Ellie.

Monday, June 19

I’ll start by sharing gratitude with God for waking me up today.

This afternoon, I’ll reconnect with Duquesne University to plan how we can serve with our Will Allen Foundation and Steel Smiling Mandela Fellows. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities.

Tonight, Steel Smiling will film live with Michelyn Hood Tinor for PghSpot.com, an online interview program that spotlights stories, community leaders and entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, June 20

This morning I’ll launch my #TEDxTuesday campaign. On June 4, I presented a talk about mental health and the power of listening at the Byham Theater.

I’ll meet with Isaiah Noriega of Free Imagination Leaders to discuss our mental health collaborative. Isaiah is a doctoral student at Point Park University pursuing a degree in Clinical-Community Psychology. We’re brainstorming evidence-based ways to share therapeutic conversations with Brashear High School students. We’ll also identify strategies related to launching a local membership group benefiting mental health professionals of color.

This afternoon, I’ll visit our Hilltop communities to hear stories from community members for Steel Smiling. Following our connections, we’ll collaborate to ensure they’re able to access ongoing, human-centered and culturally competent mental health support.

Julius Boatwright

Julius Boatwright, his fiancee Lauren Stoner and their three-legged dog Ellie during their engagement photo shoot. Photo by Cara Rufenacht.

Wednesday, June 21

I’ll meet with my mentor Don Goughler of The Forbes Funds. Their Executive-In-Residence program provides high-level advisory support to nonprofit executives and boards as they strive to strengthen organizational impact, nimbleness and sustainability.

After that, I’ll share phone calls with community partners for our Life PAK service efforts through the Will Allen Foundation. Last year, we collaborated with individuals, corporations and nonprofits to bless approximately 1,200 youth with backpacks containing vital school and hygiene supplies. Seeing the joy on our kiddos’ faces is priceless.

This evening, I’ll research ways that I can serve as a newly elected Board member for the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. We’re a safe harbor that provides specialized care and support for women who have experienced intimate partner violence from physical to emotional through emergency shelter, legal advocacy, a 24-hour hotline, support groups and more.

Thursday, June 22

I’ll share conversations with our Will Allen Foundation team and partners at Junior Achievement as we plan to serve youth through the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. In September 2014, President Barack Obama issued a directive to cities, counties and communities across the nation to become “MBK Communities,” wherein elected officials work with local partners to forge long-term and strategic programs to improve the livelihood and development of all young people, with a strong focus on young men and boys of color.

I’ll participate in a Twitter chat providing a mental health perspective with the American Heart Association.

This evening I’ll explore mental health and youth engagement with BIGS at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.

Friday, June 23

This afternoon, I’ll have coffee with John Lovelace at Starbucks Downtown. John serves as president of UPMC for You and their Government Programs and Individual Advantage Products.

This evening I’ll join my BMe brothers for a celebration of our service efforts in the community! Our 2017 leaders will be honored at the Heinz History Center from 6 to 9 p.m. BMe is a national network of inspired black men and thousands of community builders from all races and genders that connect to share, inspire and empower communities across America.

Steel Smiling

Steel Smiling community member in Bedford Dwellings, the Hill District. Photo by Robert Ware.

Saturday, June 24

I’ll start by connecting with our community members at the Homewood Health Matters event. There will be a family-friendly 5K run-walk, a 10K bicycling loop and a Health Expo on Stargell Field.

I’ll dedicate the evening to my fiancée Lauren Stoner. In our world, we refer to Saturday night as “Satur-date.” On the anniversary of our first date, we’ll share a picnic in the park. We’ll take advantage of Citiparks’ free summer programming by enjoying the Stars at Riverview, Pittsburgh’s premier jazz in Riverview Park. Our Satur-date will end by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows at Cinema in the Park.

Sunday, June 25

I will give my parents a call to see how they’re feeling. Later, I’ll party with my PUMP PSL football family at our postseason shindig!

This evening, Lauren and I will relax by taking our dog, Ellie, for a walk around Beechview.

We’ll end the night by finalizing wedding details. Our ceremony will take place on July 1st in Pittsburgh!

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