George Walley-Sephes has accomplished a great deal since he graduated from Neumann University in 2017 with a degree in psychology. This south Philadelphia native is a transformation coach, a community and youth advocate, an author, and founder of Survival to Success, Inc., a non-profit organization committed to breaking the cycle of survival within underserved, black and brown communities.
Breaking the “cycle of survival” may seem like a strange phrase to use, but Walley-Sephes defines the cycle of survival as a continuous struggle to maintain happiness externally, despite a continuous internal battle with the effects of mental, emotional, and financial stress.
“People are focused on paycheck to paycheck and we don’t get the chance to pick others up. There is trauma that people deal with on a daily basis and they need help,” Walley-Sephes said.
After he graduated from NU, Walley-Sephes landed a job as a childcare worker dealing with school-age children. He was working 80 hours a week and feeling as though he was not able to make a difference in the children’s lives.
“I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I looked at my community and saw the same things happening over and over. I really wanted to help break the cycle of survival in my community,” he explained.
Walley-Sephes’ ability to empathize and understand members of his community on a deeper level helped him to see first-hand the role that pain and trauma play in the issues that are most vividly impacting his community. Seeing this, he set off on a mission to assist members of his community through their own transformational process.
“I loved learning about people and how they work, and I wanted to help people, especially those struggling in my community,” he explained.
Survival to Success, which started one year ago, has a mission to provide underserved, black and brown communities with opportunities to heal mentally, spiritually, and financially through youth programming, community engagement and transformation coaching that promotes healing, financial freedom, and spiritual/personal growth.
The organization also hosts interactive workshops and a support group for fathers called the Fellow Father’s Circle. Wally-Sephes is the father of two young sons. Having them in his life has caused him to strive to be a better man and encourage those around him to do the same.
Through the organization, Walley-Sephes created a youth program to help at-risk youth to understand trauma and the role it plays in their lives and the lives of other members of their communities, to identify their passions, and to understand the basics of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The program places an emphasis on providing a safe space for youth to be transparent about who they are, the things that shaped and molded them, and providing them with the tools and resources needed to heal and step into their purpose and passion. (This program is currently on hold due to the pandemic.)
One of the more recent programs offered through Survival to Success are men’s and women’s groups called, From One King to Another and From One Queen to Another. These groups bring black men and women together to address the issues plaguing their communities. The groups’ main focus is on issues regarding mental health, relationships, motherhood/fatherhood, financial literacy, and spirituality. These groups have Facebook pages and members participate in bi-weekly Zoom meetings.
In Wally-Sephes’ book, Survival to Success, Moving the Black Community Forward, he shares the stories of pain and trauma within the black community. He strongly believes that in order for us to address the disparities impacting our communities, we must first address the traumas and mental illnesses that impact each and every one of us on a daily basis. The book is available through Barnes & Nobel.