By Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
“When I visited my grandparents on Hilton Head Island as a child coming from Atlanta, I learned how to pick tomatoes, grow watermelons and peel shrimp.But best of all, I was able to bond with my family.”
Tosha Suggs is now a 42-year-old single mother, raising her 14-year-old son, Christopher, who a freshman at Hilton Head High School. Island life and family bonding brought her back to the Lowcountry and the strength of her character and power of her goals has kept her here.
PINK: You work with young people. Tell us about your job and what it means to you.
TOSHA: I am very passionate about working with youth of all ages. I currently serve as the youth director for my church, Central Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. I plan and organize the youth Sunday school and Bible study program, I attend youth activities either at school or within the community and I assist with the puppet ministry at church. I am also a facilitator for the South Carolina Baptist Congress on Christian Education, where I teach the ministry of puppetry. The most recent project we did was Youth Explosion, where gospel recording artist Jakalyn Carr was the featured artist.
PINK: How would you define what you do?
TOSHA: I am working to help build young disciples for Christ by developing and implementing a comprehensive approach to youth ministry. I emphasize areas of group building, worship, discipleship, mission and outreach. I serve as a spiritual leader and role model. I am learning also to take myself out of the way and redirect issues more toward the needs of the young people.
PINK: This sounds challenging.
TOSHA: Yes it can be, but the more we talk to one another, especially youth, the better the mission statement for the youth ministry as a whole. We all work together to learn about establishing fellowship with others of the same age and similar Christian beliefs and to grow and mature in faith by helping each other discover our individual spiritual gifts. We are also involved in outreach to the unsaved and ultimately to send forth into the world with a sense of purpose. That can be so lacking in young people. I mean that sense of a bigger purpose that they can see right now and looking to their future place in the world.
PINK: Talk a little about yourself.
TOSHA: Throughout my life, I have been faced with many trials and tribulations. I must thank God for His grace and guidance from my grandmother and my aunt, who were my inspiration. Although my grandmother has passed, her strength guides me daily. She loved all of her children and grandchildren and taught us to be strong, have courage and keep smiling. She also taught me to always be the best person I can be.
As I turned 40, I seemed to get a new outlook on life. In my journey I am being a better parent and friend. I am also a caregiver to my mom and I am grateful for the strength to do that. At my age, I am working on a degree in human resource management and education. When I am trained in both fields, I think I can train young people on how to better prepare themselves for the workforce.
As to hobbies, I am a baker by trade and love to experiment in the kitchen. My girlfriends and I go out for dinner often and have “vent” time. We seek out different restaurants and always laugh a lot and let out our stress together.
Most of my time is spent at church with mom, my goddaughter, and Christopher. He is into sports, so I am the mom cheering from the sidelines. I have a busy plate but my motto in life is “Failure is not an option.” If you believe in something you will give your all to accomplish a goal.
PINK: Tosha this column is about people with a bucket list. I understand that you have something very different on your list. What is that?
TOSHA: I dream of starting a non-profit organization for youth. It would be a school that teaches trades. In my vision it is something like Technical College of the Lowcountry but in other ways it is much more. I worked in a store and I was very surprised at the lack of skills of the kids who worked there. I don’t necessarily mean job skills, but things like showing up for an interview with blue hair—that kind of thing. I would like to be able to teach young people how to become productive employees, how to interview, dress etiquette for work and so much more. I would like this school to create young people who are positive role models for the community. That is quite a bucket list item, isn’t it? I will graduate from college at the age of 44. If I can do that, maybe I can do other big things!
Yes, Tosha, you can. I do not think that it is beyond your reach. With such a heart for Christ and a passion for her mission to young people, Tosha Suggs seems unstoppable!