James Turner: Oakridge Neighborhood was "Family"

James Turner recalls a story from his childhood at Oakridge Neighborhood.

“I was on a bike and I tried to jump a dumpster. I cracked my head. Neighbors I didn’t know took me to the hospital. It was like that…a strong, positive community and safe. Everyone stuck together.”

Turner came to Oakridge Neighborhood as a child with a single mother. It was tough, he says, but now a grandfather, he looks back fondly on his years here.

“There was a sense of family right away. Sister Margaret Toomey embraced us. It felt good to be there.

“My mom worked hard. We were at Oakridge six or seven years and were able to move out, but she didn’t want to leave the support and what felt like family. It was a great place to start, to bring your family and build it up.

Turner went to North High School, where he excelled in athletics. “I gained a lot of confidence growing up in Oakridge because I saw a lot of tough times but people believed in me.”

Now Turner is in the position to pass along confidence and belief in others, not only as a father who worked to teach his own children to be “respectful and honest” but also through his career with Des Moines Public Schools, where he’s served for over 20 years. As an associate at Weeks Middle School, “I really like communicating with kids and giving them guidance and positive advice.”

He is undoubtedly making an impact on numerous students, in the same way Oakridge Neighborhood changed his life. “Oakridge impacted my life tremendously…the commitment people had to us meant the world to us. I will never forget.”

Hear more from James here.

Oakridge Neighborhood is home for nearly 1,000 residents, with over half of those being under 18 years old. To help make a difference, donate here or please contact Kristin Littlejohn, klittlejohn@oakridgeneighborhood.org or 515 | 244-7701.