By Sharah Denton
VALDOSTA – If you have lived in Valdosta for the past thirty years, you more than likely have heard the name, Percy Chastang. Percy is a husband, father, leader and mover and shaker in his own right. At South Health District he is the Youth Development Coordinator for the Office of Adolescent and School Health. For Percy, what he does professionally is not just a job, it is something he is passionate about beyond the office. “The most pride filled aspect of my work is experiencing a young person overcoming a challenging situation or adversity and making positive strides moving forward,” says Percy.
Percy believes it is important for the community to understand that every person has a role to play and with that, the size and importance of each role is determined by the individual themselves. “There is a sense of validation when I see the fruits of my labor, but that is quickly replaced by desire to do it on a grander scale and with more youth,” says Percy. Not only does Percy devote his time to our local youth in the community, he is also a very passionate and committed member of the Alpha Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. “It is a graduate chapter based in Valdosta and I happen to serve as the Chairperson of our mentoring committee. We founded the Omega Mentoring Program (OMP) last year which is designed to provide mentoring and outreach to young males,” says Percy. Percy adds that the brotherhood employs a service of learning along with leadership type model in the structure of the group of young men. Some of those young men are challenged on a variety of levels while simultaneously being educated and inspired by the professionals within the fraternity. OMP participates in field trips, youth conferences, seminars, and curriculum courses to name a few.
In regard to his profession, Percy admits there are misconceptions. “The greatest misconception about my type of work is the idea that there is a need for new and personal non-profit organizations and/or foundations. Although I strongly encourage and support young people and ideas for business and new commerce, there is troubling belief in the black community that involves non-profit work, 501(c)3 development, and community outreach as an entrepreneur-based career opportunity,” says Percy. He adds that the best path is to collaborate and support organizations or ministries that are already established so that the opportunity for community growth is present.
Percy’s influence and passion for mentoring youth comes from his father, Percy Chastang Sr. “He was born in abject poverty on a post-Depression era farm in Alabama with 12 siblings. He is a double retiree from the United States Marine Corps and Proctor & Gamble. He did not attend college, but witnessed all four of his children receive master degrees or higher,” says Percy. On a broader scale, Percy says his admiration of Muhammad Ali contributed to his desire to speak publicly. “As a young man growing up in Albany, GA, I watched him on Wide World of Sports and his level of articulation and confidence has a mesmerizing effect on me.” When asked what advice he would give millennials who are working towards their goals Percy says, “The best advice that I try to impart to young people is to understand the concept of karma and the importance and value in personal relationships. With such short attention spans, I normally just tell them to “give what you want”.