“STEPPING UP TO SERVE: IS A MISSISIPPI-BASED INITIATIVE TO SHOWCASE PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY WHO ARE GOING THE EXTRA MILE TO GIVE BACK. THIS SEGMENT IS MADE POSSIBLE BY:
“Stepping Up To Serve” – JPD Sergeant Christian Vance
Sergeant Vance loves Jackson. Sergeant Vance loves his community. Sergeant Vance loves YOU.
At 33 years old, Sergeant Christian Vance has already been working for the Jackson Police Department for ten years. His original plan was to work for JPD for a few years and then go on to work on a federal level. But his attachment to this city has kept him working for the department.
“I love Jackson. I love Jackson like a person,” Vance said as his eyes welled up with tears. “I’d do anything for it. Every blade of grass, every small business, every elderly person, every kid.. They are so worth all my time and attention and love. This place is so special. I just know that I wouldn’t be who I am without it.”
Vance moved to Mississippi as a child and grew up in Jackson. He attended Jackson schools, and went on to major in Criminal Justice at Jackson State.
Sergeant Vance knows that helping others and being a part of changing the world is in his blood.
He is the cousin of the late Hinds County Sheriff Lee Vance, his grandfather was a 1961 Freedom Rider, his father worked at a non-profit, his mom is a therapist, his sisters are educators, his wife is a teacher. There’s no part of Vance’s life that isn’t about making a difference.
“People say you become a police officer, and one of the big things police officers get told is ‘Don’t think you can change the world’, really as a defense mechanism on the inside. But it’s false,” Vance said. “Because if I talk to some 3rd grade girl who doesn’t have high expectations of herself or grow up in a positive environment and I can change her expectations and perception of herself… I have in fact changed the world. I have changed HER world.”
His love of Jackson and dedication to making a difference was the seed that started his own non-profit, The Firm Foundations. The Firm Foundations is a mentoring program that teaches leadership and offers guidance to youth in the Jackson area. The non-profit started with 5 kids, and quickly evolved into 50 kids; and, now, at community nights they host about 200 people. All supplies are donated, and the non-profit is supported by people who want to see a change in the narrative.
“It’s about showing young men that they are courageous AND compassionate; they are fierce AND patient when the world is sometimes showing them the opposite.”
Vance also spends his free-time coaching basketball with the Jackson PAL basketball team. PAL is an acronym for Police Athletic League. The coaches are all police officers and they’re all volunteers.
As a coach (in basketball and in his career), Vance believes in the power of focus. Focus on making the best decision. Focus on situational surroundings. Focus on individual performance. And if we all take a moment to focus on the things we could do better, the world might be a better place.
Vance encourages corporations, churches, and local businesses to be more intentional in what they are doing to give back to the community that gives them so much. Offer internships to high schoolers, donate to charities, put on job fairs. There’s so much a large organization can do to make a difference in their own cities.
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to fail one too. We are all accountable,” said Vance.
Everybody’s situation is different, and we all lead different lives; but Vance knows that Mississippi is a place that is unique, smart, neighborly, and should be cherished.
“This place can be so special. There’s intimacy, and there’s culture, and there’s music, and there’s food, and there’s history, and there’s all these things in this city that we have to find a way to capitalize on, man. And to not undervalue Tugaloo, and Millsaps, and Jackson State. This small town has four four-year colleges in it. That’s unheard of. So, what we have is an endless supply of young minds, that to this point we have failed to captivate. Which is criminal. We have to give them something to latch on to. We have to realize our own worth and our own value.”
We don’t know what the future holds for Sergeant Vance, but we can all be certain that he will stick around – for us.
“I’m just so dedicated to this city. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going ANYWHERE. If I live and die in this place, and even if I don’t see the end of the change, if I can help affect the change, it is well on my soul. I am resigned to the fact to live and die in this place, and give it all I got.”
“Don’t give up on us, man. Don’t give up on us.”