On Inspiring Youth in the Community
By Alizza Smith
ABOVE: Dr. Elouise Joseph (third from the left) at All Stars Project, Inc.
I first met Dr. Elouise Joseph at the Richmond Clinic when she was still a practicing doctor. I remember she had a huge smile and after my checkup, she told me all about the All Stars Project of the San Francisco Bay Area, a non-profit program that works to “transform the lives of youth and poor communities” through performance opportunities.
Dr. Joseph grew up poor in New Orleans. Her younger brother died at the age of two because her family could not afford to go to a good hospital.
“We had to pass several hospitals along the way that we could not afford,” remembers Dr. Joseph. After the death of her younger brother, her father also died at the age of 55 years old.
“I became a doctor so that my family and community would have quality, accessible medical care,” she said.
About her father, Dr. Joseph had this to say:
“My father and I had a special relationship when I was a young child. Then as it happens, our relationship was strained. When I became a teen I did not agree with him on certain rules, so we argued a lot.” She said she appreciates him more now that she is an adult.
I also asked Dr. Joseph, about her relationship with her mom.
“My mom was a huge part of my life. She attended my graduation at Stanford Medical School, taking the Greyhound bus all the way from Louisiana because she was too nervous to fly. I miss her to this day.”
Now that she’s retired from practicing medicine, Dr. Joseph is an important leader of the All Stars Project. Her job is to help teens and young adults to have a good work ethic, instead of running in the streets without a real purpose.
Do you miss being a doctor?
“Not really. The way I see it, I merely expanded my clinical practice to include the entire SF Bay Area community. Using a methodology that has a much larger impact than I could have as a pediatrician in the limited confines of the medical clinic. And I still get to work with young people of all ages and their parents!”
I asked about how the program engages young people.
“One of the ways we reach the young people is performing speaking engagements in high schools. And we have done several at Berkeley High School and continuation high schools in Berkeley. We have done some grassroots organizing at the Berkeley Flea Market and young people who live in Berkeley refer other youth to our programs.”
When asked how she got involved with All Stars Program, Dr. Joseph said:
“I was introduced to a New York City volunteer who had come to the SF Bay Area to build the volunteer base to launch the All Stars Talent Show Network, and I said a big fat ‘Yes!’ based on what I had heard about the impact on NYC youth. We launched the program in the Bay Area in 2002 with our first talent show in Oakland.”
How does All Stars inspire and transform lives?
“All Stars Project has a very out-of-the-box and innovative way of looking at the world and how small changes can lead to big changes. Our mission is to ‘use the power of performance to transform the lives of youth and poor communities in partnership with caring adults.'”
Who is eligible for the All Stars Project?
“In the Development School for Youth, 16-22 year olds partner with business leaders who conduct workshops and provide paid summer internships. So if Berkeley students want to be a part of the program they can. Our goal is to work both broadly and deeply in the poor communities.”
Do you love your job as City Leader for the All Stars Project?
“Absolutely! My position allows me to do more bridge building across ethnic, economic, gender, and generational divides. We bring people together who don’t usually go together, to create how we will all live on this planet together. I think it is needed now more than ever! I am thrilled to be working in a job that is challenging, exciting, and having an impact.”