A Tassy’s time as a student at Wright State University has been both long and transformative.
At 15, Tassy earned most of the credits they needed to graduate from Fairborn High School through Wright State’s College Credit Plus Program. Since then, they have explored several majors that ranged from electrical engineering to theatre but eventually found their true calling in service to their community.
“A lot of things were happening during my time at Wright State, with the start of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a lot of other social justice issues coming to the forefront,” said Tassy. “During that time, I found myself getting more involved in my community, and eventually realized that was what I really wanted to focus on, things like community development, helping impoverished people get to a safe and financially secure place.”
Tassy began exploring majors that would help them move forward with that ambition and eventually began taking classes in African American studies.
“Being African American myself, taking these classes was the first time I truly felt seen and heard,” said Tassy. “Through my studies, I started to get into a lot of community work, taking what I have learned from the amazing leaders of the past and applying that knowledge in my own community.”
Everything clicked into place for Tassy after that. They earned their bachelor’s degree in African and African American studies in 2023 and are now pursuing a Master of Humanities, with the goal of serving the needs of their community.
Tassy is a recipient of the Wright Fellows Scholarship, which aims to attract a diverse body of high-quality graduate students to Wright State. A small number of graduate students are selected to receive the scholarship each year.
As a person who identifies as nonbinary, Tassy’s desire to serve the needs of their community took a two-pronged approach, simultaneously promoting inclusivity, awareness and visibility for underserved populations and addressing issues such as poverty and harm reduction.
This inspired Tassy to start the not-for-profit organization Inclusive Fairborn in 2020. Born out of the Black Lives Matter movement, Inclusive Fairborn began as a conversation with neighbors who wanted to do more.
“I attended a lot of local Black Lives Matter protests. During these protests I started canvasing people to see if they would be interested in doing more community work and getting their phone numbers,” said Tassy.
Community response was positive, and Tassy was encouraged to gain support from Fairborn City Council members. Earning the support of the city allowed for the creation of events such as Pride Fairborn that help promote inclusivity, which is a large part of Inclusive Fairborn’s mission.
Inclusive Fairborn also provides resources and aid to unhoused and low-income members of the community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairborn’s poverty rate is 17.4%, which is more than 6,000 people in poverty.
Inclusive Fairborn provides material support to impoverished and low-income individuals and families, especially those who are in vulnerable or underserved groups such as the LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. Through the work of volunteers, Inclusive Fairborn delivers resources such as food, clothing, shoes, books, pads, tampons, condoms, hygiene items, seeds, medical kits and more.
“We create kits for unhoused people that include tents and provide free hot meals to low-income neighborhoods,” Tassy said. “We also have a resource delivery program, delivering basic needs to anyone in Fairborn who is in need, no questions asked.”
Partnerships with local businesses and organizations like Greene County Public Health have allowed Inclusive Fairborn to sponsor events that also provide services such as free haircuts, health screenings, and training as Narcan distributors.
Inclusive Fairborn has achieved nonprofit status in Ohio and is working toward federal recognition as a nonprofit. Much of the initial support the organization received came from the communities it serves, which are often the people least able to contribute.
“Officially achieving not-for-profit status opened a lot of doors in terms of receiving grants. We also now have a grant writer, which has helped a lot,” said Tassy.
Inclusive Fairborn is also seeking grant funding for an ID campaign to help unhoused people obtain state identification and birth certificates.
The organization also seeks to sponsor at least one event a month to connect with the community and lend support to other local organizations.
Visit inclusivefairborn.com to learn more about Inclusive Fairborn.