BY NATALIE ARCH | For AC JosepH Media
VOORHEES TOWNSHIP — A native of Long Island New York, Jason Brice has drawn inspiration from life experiences, his mother, and the perseverance of his son, Jason Brice Jr., to create his community-centered foundation called Four Walls, which he considers “nothing but a blessing.”
A member of the Board of Education at Voorhees Township Public School, Brice advocates for the average student.
“When schools are talking in general about the good things happening at their school, they’re talking about those high achieving kids, those kids that do honor-roll, and those kids that you know, do those type of things but where is the average student? Where’s the below-average student at? Who’s advocating for them?” said Brice.
In his youth, Brice, who also serves as a counselor at Penns Grove High School, struggled to get satisfactory grades in school.
“I just wasn’t a good student,” he said. “Matter of fact, I had somebody write in my yearbook, ‘I hope you don’t fool around and waste time like you did all through high school,’ or something like that,” said Brice. “It wasn’t that encouraging.”
Once Brice turned 18, he moved around to different states such as Virginia and Delaware trying to figure out his purpose. Through these struggles to simply figure himself out, he learned that he wasn’t much different than the children he’d soon be helping.
“I was a kid, and grew into a young man, and grew into a middle-aged man where I was trying to find myself, I was trying to find out who the heck I was,” said Brice.
“So I had to go to these different places, and through those travels, I had to endure some different hardships, and it’s through those hardships that i was able to identify, ‘Hey, you know what? I think kids are no different than I am, where they’re trying to figure it all out.’”
Brice got the idea to help children in his own way as he was sitting through a class where he felt the instructor didn’t keep him engaged. Instead of zoning out, he decided to zone in on his own idea of youth assistance.
“I sat there in that training with my notepad, and I said ‘You know what? Forget him. I’m going to create my own thing, my own energy, and my own situation,” said Brice.
He drew from his own passions such as poetry, producing music, and spirituality, and wanted to use them in his methods to help children. When coming up with the name of Four Walls, he looked at his surroundings.
“I said ‘you know what? I’m going to put the child in the center of the room and surround them with one, two, three, four. Four Walls of services,’” said Brice.
In July of 2013, Brice’s mother died, and within the next few months, he went through a divorce. During this tumultuous time in Brice’s life, he was unemployed and noted that he had dealt with tremendous pressure to pay his rent and take care of his children. He was able to get his mind off of this pressure by using his free time to pine over the Four Walls foundation.
“I would just sit and just think about, and dream about what I wanted to do,” Brice said. “I just used to sit, and meditate, and pray about what I wanted to do.”
At first, counseling was difficult for Brice to make a living out of, as he was turned down by certain agencies. So, he started with small amounts of clients at Four Walls.
“I could have two or three clients that I could work with that could supplement my money so I could afford my rent. I wouldn’t have to walk around with holes in my shoes anymore, I don’t have to walk around struggling, with my kids, and we could have Christmas presents, we could do different things. I never knew that it would turn into what it is,” said Brice.
Brice is currently a licensed associate counselor, but he states that in a few weeks he’ll be handing in his paperwork to be a licensed professional counselor, and an office for Four Walls will be coming soon in Voorhees.
“I’ll be able to start outpatient services and start that trek towards building that community center,” said Brice.
Brice hopes that if anything, he will be the starting point for kids to find their stride in life.
“I am nothing but a farmer, I plant the seeds, God is the one who cultivates it,” said Brice.
Referencing a James Baldwin quote, “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see,” Brice points out that his love will never change for those who need it.
“You wanna commit a crime, well guess what? My love’s not gonna change for you. But you’re gonna suffer the consequences, though,” Brice said. “So if you do this, you can do it, but this is what you’re looking at. And I love you enough to tell you that.
“Guess what? If you’re in jail, I still love you, I’ll send you some money, I’ll put some money on your books, guess what? It’s never gonna change. And that’s what I think people need, that’s what kids need, they need someone that loves them no matter what.”
During Brice’s son, Jason Jr’s. freshman year of high school, Jason Jr. was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, and survived. Brice feels he owes something to God for saving his son’s life.
“You can’t go through something like that and come out the same,” Brice said. “So, my son is easily my hero. Easily. He’s so much stronger, so much better than I ever was, honestly.”
Although the situation was tough, Brice thinks he has learned to love more because of it.
“It’s opened up a level of love that maybe I didn’t have, maybe I was afraid to show. It opened up more vulnerability,” said Brice.
Brice hopes to inspire not only the youth, but everyone, to live without limits.
“It’s being able to do all that you can do in the time that you have to do it,” said Brice. “I’m hoping that when people read anything that has to do with me, they will do all they have to do with the time that God has allowed them to do with it, and to have purpose.”
To learn more about Four Walls, visit http://www.4wallsllc.com/
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