By Steve Novotney
He aspires to be a bridge. He engages and he connects, and then he guides.
But Ron Scott Jr. has no idea why he does what he does, and he is not very successful answering the “Who,” the “What,” the “Where,” and the “How,” questions either.
The 40-year-old Scott is a counselor at Youth Services System in East Wheeling, and he cares not what race or nationality a person of need is. He believes when a person “hits the bottom,” renewed hope can be a reality.
“I like to tell people I am professional at leading the horse to water. Of course I can’t get them to drink the water, but at least they would have the opportunity to drink,” the father of two explained. “I am counseling a lot of young people. Young people with addictions and young people who need some sort of direction.
“Also very important to me is getting young people connected with colleges and universities, and to get the unemployed to connect to job opportunities. I would love to be able to get all the young people walking the streets a resume and a cover letter so they at least have those things going for them when they look for a job.”
Scott’s employment does not involve set times and particular days of the week, but that is because he makes that choice.
“I think I approach life, in general, that way because I watched my mother be such a helper for anyone who needed help,” he said. “Ya know there’s something about desperation. When people are desperate, it’s like a window of opportunity because that’s when they are finally open to suggestions. At no other time would they consider it until desperation sets in.
“With addiction, the worst time is called being at the bottom,” Scott continued. “I think the bottom is a small window of opportunity because the people are so desperate they are willing to try whatever it takes to get better.”
Mom and Dad.
Scott has a special relationship with both his mother and father. His mother, Linda, is a nurse by profession and in life, according to her son. His father, who was released from a federal prison nearly a year ago after serving three years for cocaine trafficking, remains a part of his life despite his addictions and legal issues.
“My mom is all I have, and that’s not to take away from my father. But everything I have learned from my mother has been from example. She’s a nurse by profession, but it’s also the person she is.
“I went through a hard-head period during my life,” he admitted. “And I can remember one time I really upset my mother, and it made her cry. Since that day my only goal has been for her to be able to tell other people that she’s proud of me.”
A 1992 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, Scott, who will soon graduate from West Liberty University, has had a much different relationship with his father.
“He went to jail for three years because of drugs and guns, but it’s not like he was a ‘kingpin’ or anything. He’s an addict. He’s always been an addict,” he said. “So he went to prison in his 60s, and he was in the joint with all these young cats. But he made it, and he’s out now, and he’s trying to get his life back.
“He got out about a year ago, so I can only pray he stays clean this time, and I think the fact that when he got out, we were all still here will keep him clean. It’s not like we’re telling him to stay away from us. We’re not. I think that will keep him clean more than what the doctors have told him about his addictions and what they have done to his body.”
He is not positive whether or not his experiences with his father’s addictions have anything to do with the fact he does not smoke cigarettes, consume alcoholic beverages, or use any drugs of any kind. In fact, Scott always thought he would celebrate one of life’s most meaningful moments by getting high.
“Everyone always asks me if it’s because of my father and his issues, but it isn’t. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure why.
“I know years ago I always thought when I reached one of life’s milestones, I was going to celebrate by partying,” he explained. “When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I thought, ‘I’m going to celebrate by getting real high. And I remember buying weed so I could get high, but I never did. It started to be ridiculous to me, so those days are past me and I don’t smoke, drink or use.”
Scott is involved with several organizations, including one he created himself. Along with serving as a member of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission, he also is active with the Independent Theatre Collection. He is the founder, though, of the Ohio Valley African American Students Association.
“I started it a few years ago because I saw the need for it, and so did a lot of other people. For me, it’s all about empowering students to consider higher education,” he said. “I want those kids to have the chance, and what this organization does is give them credit for their efforts so far.
“All I want to do is encourage them by recognizing them. It’s that simple. In my experience as a young black child or man, when I got recognized for something good, it made me want to do more good things so I could get recognized again.”
On a daily basis Scott finds himself concerned with the state of racial relations in the United States because of proven discrimination and particular realities in his own life. He acknowledges the fact U.S. President Barack Obama was elected twice as a sign of progress, but Scott cites the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as a sign of continued hatred.
“I think there’s enough superficial stuff out there in our country today that allows a lot of people to believe racial relations are getting a ton better, but in actuality it doesn’t feel as if much progress is being made,” he said.
“Is it getting better in this area? It is. And I know for sure because I live here. I am surrounded by it, and my skin is black. Can it get better? It can, and it will because people here now want it to.”