His job as the executive director of the Hope, Unity and Freedom Center involves bettering the lives of the less fortunate in a most fundamental way – ensuring they have the health services they need to improve their daily functioning ability.
Wilson has dedicated more than just his day job to the service of the public. He also serves in a number of community-focused volunteer organizations in the Richmond area, including the Urban League, Boys and Girls Club of America and Senior Connections, an advocate group for senior rights and services.
Wilson's professional and humanitarian contributions to the Greater Richmond community recently earned him recognition as one of Richmond's top 40 professionals under the age of 40. The “Top 40 Under 40” list, released last month by the Richmond-based publication “Style Weekly,” included Wilson among 39 other top business and civic leaders in central Virginia.
The honor was especially impressive for Wilson, 29, who was one of only four people on the list under the age of 30.
Wilson, who has now experienced professional success at a young age, said that the lessons he learned while growing up in Elkin taught him how to stay grounded and focused on his career goals. He hopes that students only a few years younger than him realize the advantages their town has to offer.
“For me, what's interesting is that there are so many people that grow up in the town of Elkin. Part of the problem is that the kids in school...can't wait until they grow up and get away. But the thing is that being from a place like Elkin...gives you a solid foundation and a sense of the place that you come from,” said Wilson.
Wilson, a native of Jonesville, attended Starmount High School for three years before transferring to Elkin High School, where he graduated in 1999.
Wilson then went on to Emory and Henry College, in Emory, Va., as a Bonner and AmeriCorps Scholar. There he majored in psychology and played men's basketball for four years.
Looking back on his early school years, Wilson, who sometimes felt limited growing up in a small town, now wants to impart a message that current students should develop the values and experiences they gain from living and attending school a small community, rather than feeling restricted by them.
“Take advantage of the things you have there and maximize them – the sense of family, community and faith,” said Wilson. “I want (students) to take something away from home that will help them be successful.”
And as Wilson meets influential Virginians – from Richmond school board members to White House staffers – on a daily basis in his professional and volunteer work, he continues to take his own advice as he improves his community using the lessons that his hometown community taught him as a student.
Said Wilson, “I can say that being from Elkin has given me a solid foundation to stay level-headed, not letting distractions influence me and remembering where I'm from period.”
Wilson is the son of Melvin and Carolyn Wilson, of Jonesville. For more information on Wilson's work with the Hope, Unity and Freedom Center, visit the organization's website at hufcenter.com.