Across 3 Companies, Wilson Builds Bridges

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A child-care center, a behavioral health office and an event center may not have all that much in common, but for HaSheen Wilson there’s a uniting force behind his three businesses.

“I call myself a bridge-builder. Even though these businesses are distinct and different, the undercurrent is building a bridge,” says Wilson, owner of Crawling to Destiny Preschool and Learning Center, Youngstown Event Center and New Vision Behavioral Health.

“If you and I can engage, bridge our gaps and parlay that to other people, there’s a richness of people coming together,” he says.

The idea of Crawling to Destiny, for example, came to Wilson after a conversation with one of his sons. Wilson always tried to instill in his kids a sense of inclusion, but still saw them drawing dividing lives between themselves and people in Youngstown.

Crawling to Destiny, he says, has four guiding principles – faith, hope, love, hard work – and makes an effort to be as inclusive as possible, from serving families of all races to having men and women working as educators.

“When you start to understand interacting with people who are different than you, it helps you develop as a person. Oftentimes, we don’t experience those kinds of differences until we go off to college. We want to be inclusive around the staff we recruit and the families we serve,” Wilson says.

With Youngstown Event Center, which opened in late 2019, Wilson has worked to build a space that connects people to the city. The center is housed in a former church at the corner of Market Street and Dewey Avenue. It’s played host to entertainment events and educational programs.

While plenty of similar options exist in the suburbs, Wilson says the decision to make such a place available within the city limits was done with intention.

“I believe that if we give people a reason to participate in things in the city, then their heartstrings will be tied to the city. That’s the driving force behind Youngstown Event Center. We want to provide a space for entertainment, education and empowerment for all people,” he says.

“If you’re a Black-owned business, a lot of times you get branded as only for Black people. Black people participate at White-owned establishments but not so often vice versa. That’s something that has to be addressed. I want people to understand that this is a space for all people.”

Wilson’s most recent endeavor is New Visions Behavioral Health, which opened in May. The impetus behind the office on Midlothian Boulevard was the death of his sister, who suffered mental health issues. The family at one point held power of attorney, but the court returned that power to his sister a few months before she died. At the time, he says, he knew it was a death sentence.

“As a family, it tore our hearts out. If we’d been so involved in her care and the system still treated her this way, what can it do to people who don’t have money or support?” Wilson says. “New Visions is another way to provide for this community and it’s a way to support our healing.”

As a Black-owned behavioral health center, the aim of New Visions is to eliminate some of the barriers that exist in treating Black people, from stigma to misdiagnosis and less effective treatment. When it comes to mental health, having a provider who looks like you and understands where you’re coming from can help in treatment, he says.

“The reality is that there’s an instant alignment when people talk to people who are like them. I’m excited because it’s an anomaly. We don’t see this often. So it’s another layer on top of services: hope,” Wilson says. “The Black community needs to see people breaking through barriers so that they can think, ‘Maybe I can do it too.’”

This story appeared in the August issue of The Business Journal and is part of our Minority Entrepreneurship Week. Read about our diversity, equity and inclusion platform HERE.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.