Today we’d like to introduce you to Sean Perry.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
Hello and thank you. My name is Sean perry. I’m the President, Executive Director and Co-Founder of We R H.O.P.E. Inc., but I wasn’t always this. I spent about 20 years in the restaurant industry. I started washing dishes when I was 15. I worked my way up over the years to Sous Chef, Executive Chef and Restaurant Manager. Through all those years I had spent my time coaching youth sports off and on. From Youth Football to Youth Girls Basketball and then High School Football. I always knew that the restaurant industry was just something to pay the bills. I wanted more! After hosting a free youth football camp for the 3rd summer, I came home and told my wife I was quitting my job as a chef. The look on her face was priceless. I mean… that was what I had done for so long but for me, it was not who I am.
I began applying for positions working with youth in the mental health field. I knew that I could do the work if I just had a chance. I finally found a place that was amazing. I learned all I could in those years. After a few years, I realized that the mental health care system was broken and wanted to find a way to support all children and not just those with financial means. So my business partner and I created We R H.O.P.E. Inc. Now we are changing how children get support.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
Success has not come easy that’s for sure. The mental health care system is broken but the problem is no one wants to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people out there doing great work and thinking outside the box but the system itself is broken. People like to stick to what they know even if its not working. This has been a big challenge. We are new, something that this world has never seen and that scares people. When people are scared, they play it safe.
Being the new kids on the block and telling life long mental health professionals that there is another, better way, does not often sit well. We are constantly defending what we know to be right. That all children deserve support and the best way to do that is by meeting them where they are at. And where they are at is in school.
The other problem that we face is selling this program to school districts. Schools struggle with funding. It’s one of the ongoing conversations for as long as I can remember. However, I find it interesting when it’s time for new football jerseys or basketball jerseys that money seems to appear. Making sure that the mental health of students is the most important thing in a school district that we are not currently in is our biggest challenge. Removing the stigma of mental health challenges in communities is also very challenging but we will not give up.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
Well first let me say that there is no competition. I don’t mean this in a rude or bolstering way, I mean it literally. We created the ground floor. We have no competitor. There is no organization in the world that does specifically what we do. We are all certified life and cognitive behavioral coaches. We take a completely different approach on mental health challenges. We don’t focus on behaviors but rather what’s behind them.
We support students in schools 5 days a week for a half hour daily. If we are contracted in a school for 6 hours we can see 12 students individually every day. Now, add on that most students are with us for about 2-3 months, then a new group. That’s roughly 36 students that have individualized support every day. Again, no one is doing this. It’s also important to note that this reduces the level of stress on teachers, administrators, and the school counselor. One of the biggest issues in schools is that children can not get the support needed because there are too many students and not enough support. We solve this problem.
I should also mention that our work is also virtual and has been since the day we started. When Covid hit we were prepared before any local mental health agency and were able to keep services going seamlessly. Due to also being a virtual organization this means we can support people not only all over the country but the world.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
If anyone reading this is looking to be successful you have to first understand that it is not given, it is earned. There is no one out there that will make you successful. You have to have the passion and drive for you and no one else. Also, understand who you are, what you’re good at and what you are not. There is this human misconception. If we focus on the negative and all the things we are not good at we can then “get better”. I’d like to challenge that and say, if we know our strength and our positive points then we can see our growth faster.
In seeing growth, we see and feel success. When we feel as though we are making progress we feel better, we perform better, we are better. If we sit around focused on what we are not good at and what we can’t accomplish then we get stuck and when we are stuck we don’t grow. Once you are in the growth phase and you are seeing success then start digging into some of the things you might be struggling with. Dig into somethings that are not a strength.
We all have the ability to be successful but do we have the drive is always the question. I didn’t spend 8 years getting a Masters Degree but that doesn’t stop me from sitting with those that do and letting them know I’m on their level and then some.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Success for me means tried and tested with one’s self. Meaning you have done the work, spent the time growing and failing, and growing some more. Success is about overcoming what we didn’t think was possible. Finding out who we are through failure and embracing our strength through it.
When we realize that we are more than the negative voice in our head and the self-loathing that we all tend to do. Success means to me means I found my purpose and embraced my path. Not allowing anyone or anything to get into my head or heart. Understanding that no one will give me anything that I have not worked for and that I and earned everything through my hard work.
To break it all down, success to me is about self-discovery and personal growth through adversity. There are more people that will tell you, you can’t then those who will. When you remove all the noise around you and dig deep to find out who you are and then push that part of you, you didn’t even know was there, that is success. It’s not about money or materialistic things. It’s about growth and self discovery to be the best you today and a better you tomorrow.
What’s next for you?
This is a great question. We R H.O.P.E. is always looking for the next school to partner with and we will find them. Our main focus is resigning our current contracts for next year. We are working on a couple of projects. The first being Project Regrowth. This project is near and dear to my heart. I developed it over the summer of 2020. The basis for this project is to focus on intergeneration trauma and mental health issues in black and brown communities, along with financial literacy and mentorship. I have compiled a small team of leaders that will help to deliver this platform. The greatest piece, I think, is at the end of this 5 year program families will be in a position to purchase a home and breaking the cycle. The hope is to create mentally healthy communities who now have created generation wealth by home ownership.
Our other projects include a possible mental health pod cast, working with the state to launch state wide and a large scale fundraising campaign. As a non profit we want to put ourselves into a position financially to help schools that may not have the funds to use our services. Last year we received a 25k donation that allowed us to support just about 30 student for the year. Our goal is to raise 250k which can put us into 5 new schools for 6 hours a day. Hopefully we can hit this mark.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more.
If people would like to learn more, donate, or get support themselves because we support adults also. They can go to our website at www.werhope.org. They can also find us on Facebook and Instagram @werhopeinc. They can also send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 802-440-1428