Honor Brings More Opportunities for West Michigan Resident

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Sapp Henry 2019Henry Sapp has begun yet another journey. This month the Kentwood resident was named a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network fellow. And in March he embarks on an 18-month program of instruction, mentoring and practical experience in the foundation's efforts to create transformational change toward a more equitable society.

"This is an opportunity for some intense training and skill-building, said Sapp, 48, of the fellowship honor.

After some initial inquiries Sapp decided to apply for the program, which was in line with his current involvement with area non-profits – including the Better, Wiser, Stronger boys' mentoring organization.

Sapp was selected as one of 80 candidates from across the country, to help spur the foundation's goal of advancing racial equity and racial healing and creating sustainable solutions.

Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) partners with the Kellogg foundation. CCL President John Ryan was impressed with the high caliber of new fellows.

"We are excited to work with this talented new class to explore what's possible for creating equity at the local, state, tribal, regional and national levels," he said.
After a March orientation session, this new group of fellows will travel to cities across the country over the next year and a half. Broad themes include exploring their own leadership styles, learning ways to be agile in leading change and practicing communication with vision and purpose.

BUILDING ON A LIFE OF SERVICE

Sapp (a younger brother of gospel music artist and local pastor Bishop Marvin Sapp) has long been known for his comedy/emcee work. For many years he performed and helped organize shows as part of the annual Gilda's Club of Grand Rapids' Laughfest. He has brought in fellow comedians such as Crystal P. and shared the platform with many others (This year the busy Sapp is not doing any Laughfest dates).

     
 

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Henry was also part of the West Michigan-based gospel vocal group His Image, which had a reunion concert last year.

In 2013 Sapp co-founded Better, Wiser, Stronger Inc., a non-profit which mentors young men from elementary age though 12th grade. The team of volunteer leaders has been yet another focus for Sapp, who says the BWS mentors work with more than 60 youth each year.

"We have certain programs which cater to each age level in their individual times," he said.

For elementary students there's a "confident reading" curriculum – teaching them to recognize words, understand definitions and building confidence for them to be able to read aloud.

Another group works on basic life skills – with various speaker presentations and lessons on etiquette and accountability. "At the end we buy them suits and ties and take them out for a five-star dinner," Sapp smiled.

Special outings have them visiting museums, sports events and engaging in other activities.

LOOKING AHEAD

Sapp said the non-profit group has received grants for some special projects and has partnered with other non-profits, such as Lifequest Ministries/Urban Outreach Center on Fisk St. SE. But two significant upcoming events will help them toward their fundraising goals.

One is a special showing of the comedic feature film "A Madea Family Funeral" on March 1 at Celebration Cinema South (more info at https://www.facebook.com/events/1509217929222699/) . Then on Sat. March 16 there is a dinner/gala at Watermark County Club in Cascade with featured speaker Dr. Damon Arnold of GVSU. More info online

AN EQUATION TO FOLLOW

An Ottawa Hills High School alum, Sapp recently celebrated 25 years of marriage with his wife Christine. The couple has two adult daughters. Another recent development: the Sapps are now grandparents, with another grandchild on the way!

Henry took the name "Better, Wiser, Stronger" from lyrics in a song by his brother Marvin ("Never Would Have Made It").

"We made it into our formula and tell the kids that, if you do things better and make wiser decisions, it will make you into being a stronger person. So, 'Better + Wiser = Stronger.'"
     
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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