He was raised on the mean streets of Baltimore City, and by all accounts and statistics should have been headed towards a life that ended in either prison or death. But the 30-year old knew what many others have come to realize in Charm City, 'your circumstances aren't what define you' and despite what life throws your way, a man's destiny is based on what they choose to do with it.
Circumstances offered him lemons, and Cory McCray made sweet lemonade out of the opportunities afforded to him. “Life is about being grateful for what you have, always offering a glimmer of hope through opportunities we cannot continue to ignore and take advantage of,” says the young community leader, who was the man of honor on Monday when state comptroller Peter Franchot honored him with his coveted Golden Apple Award (the community equivalent of the Golden Globes).
“And now that I've been blessed with tremendous opportunity, I feel it's my duty to lead by example in giving back to the next generation.”
And that he has! McCray, the co-founder of one Baltimore's most powerful democratic clubs, has dedicated his life to public service through community engagement projects like his mentoring of young men and women; offering field trips to Annapolis and City Hall to the students of various East Baltimore schools, along with being a hands-on leader in assisting in their learning development.
“Cory is a great young man who has really done so much for the children, teachers and parents of Northeast Middle School,” says Ms. Susan Baldwin, the school principal where McCray was honored.
After graduating from high school, a product of the Baltimore City School System which he proudly touts, McCray completed a five-year apprenticeship program with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 24; and by the age of twenty-one had became an accomplished business owner in the Belair-Edison community.
You can see him at almost every community association meeting, event and function on the eastside of Charles St., and yet he still finds ways to be a devoted and faithful husband and father of two precious little girls. “My family is my backbone,” says McCray. “If it wasn't for them, I honestly don't think I'd have the will to keep going the way I do?”
And how fitting it was to have McCray's beautiful mother almost in tears after she surprised him with her presence; enjoying the ceremony with her other talented child, Cory's gorgeous sister Danielle (Dani) - who is one of Baltimore's most talented photographers. And while McCray enjoyed the lovely apple-shaped crystal award given by one of Maryland's most powerful politicians, it may have been Franchot's statewide seat that Cory really had his eyes on - in about 10 or 20 years?
The young politico has certainly made a name for himself since his entrance into the political world of Maryland. Besides his involvement with the BEST Democratic Club, Cory is also a newly appointed member of Baltimore's Board of Elections, a dues-paying member of almost every community association in the 45th district and the most talked about future delegate throughout the city.
His name is synonymous with hard work, dedication and loyalty, the three things most coveted by politicians and voters; and is said to be the front-runner to replace Delegate Hattie Harrison – who just recently passed away after serving the constituents of the 45th district for almost 40-years.
“If I can be half the public servant Ms. Hattie was, then I know I'll be in good company; as she was a tireless advocate for working class men and women even before her appointment to political office,” says McCray, who has built quite the resume outside of elected office himself.
In fact, he says he's prepared to run for one of the three House of Delegates seats next year, whether he is appointed to Harrison's seat or not. “I just believe that public service is what I was destined for? It's all I ever knew, and it's all I ever want to do; as I believe that helping others is the ultimate test of manhood and should be the greatest goal in anyone’s life!”
Surrounded by family, powerful political friends like Councilman Brandon Scott, Delegate Cheryl Glenn and state central committee member Rodney Burris, as well as the children of Northeast Middle School; McCray offered humbling words of encouragement for those who may think their life has no purpose - or has already been written for them.
“Life isn't about how you start, but is defined by how you finish it! You don't have to be just another statistic, as God created you with a purpose; and your job is to find that purpose and capitalize on it!” You can find out more about Cory V. McCray on his website: http://corymccray.com
“Keep steadily before you the fact that all true success depends at last upon yourself.” ~ Theodore T. Hunger
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