Raheim Smith says he used to shoplift treats at the Piggly Wiggly and look for trouble. Now the first in his family to attend college, he credits WINGS with helping him find a path to success.
Raheim attends Morris College in Sumter, S.C., and plans to get a doctorate in education. Unfailingly polite and very gregarious, Raheim loves reminiscing about the three years he spent at WINGS beginning with 3rd grade.
Even at that young age, he’d already gone looking for trouble.
“I used to be bad. My cousin Oozie and I would go to the Piggly Wiggly on Meeting Street and steal anything we could fit in our pockets – bubble gum, candy bars and chips,” Raheim says. “But once WINGS started, I stayed out of trouble. Everyone was having too much fun at WINGS – why go back to stealing? Everything you needed was right there!”
Raheim still likes to sit with his mother and watch old videos of the talent shows at WINGS, where he was known for being “Raheim the Dream” - a real ham who loved to perform in rap music battles.
“My mom says WINGS was the best thing for me and I would have been into trouble without it,” Raheim says. “I love WINGS! WINGS helped me open up, gain confidence and build my personality. I just knew that I wanted more from life.”
The WINGS staff were like parents to Raheim, he says, and he stays in touch with a number of the kids he met there. He says the lessons he learned at WINGS, and the bonds that were made, remain a source of strength and guidance in his life.
“When I left school, I still had WINGS,” says Raheim.