The Resilience of Noah White: Moments of Tragedy Turn into a Lifetime of Purpose

Noah White serves as a Case Manager at Target Area Development, one of 13 organizations that make up Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P).

March 11, 2006 is a day Noah White will never forget. A day when the world as he knew it came crashing down.

The day started out bright enough, a then seven-year-old Noah was surrounded by family and friends at his aunt’s house in Englewood for a very special occasion. His sister Siretha “Nugget” White was turning 11 in just two days and her loved ones were gathering to throw her a surprise birthday party. Noah described Nugget as his “go-to” person and the family member he could talk to about anything, so naturally, he was excited to celebrate with his big sister.

Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned to tragedy.

“She didn’t even know nothing was going on, she just walked out the room. I want to say within 20 or 30 minutes of us having the party, someone got to shooting,” Noah recalled. “We were in an apartment building upstairs on the second floor. A stray bullet came through and hit her in the head. It was shocking. It was too unbelievable.”

“She was just laying there. It wasn’t no last breath. She just dropped and that was it.”

That was it. A day meant for celebrating life ended in death. 

Even more heartbreaking news came just one week later when Noah’s father, who had been in the hospital, passed away. Noah says he felt overwhelmed at the time with all the devastation happening around him. He soon started smoking and becoming unsure of his path forward.

“It was a lot at the time, too much. I was stressed out, going through it,” Noah said.

As the years went by and his family began to pick up the pieces of a shattered reality, Noah said his mother and aunt took action by joining CeaseFire, the former violence prevention program focused on street outreach. This served as Noah’s introduction to community violence intervention (CVI), which is a public health approach that aims to address the root causes of gun violence through hyperlocal collaboration, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice. 

Noah’s older brother eventually influenced him to join him as a F.L.I.P. (Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace) worker at Target Area Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing gun violence in Chicago. F.L.I.P. workers are tasked with keeping the peace in areas most at-risk for violence. 

But, tragedy struck again when Noah’s brother was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. It would be understandable for an individual to want to give up after experiencing so much loss. However, Noah said the adversity only made him walk deeper into his purpose.

“My brother was doing this work before he was killed, so I know I wanted to do this. I’m doing something for him,” Noah said.

“[…] By me doing this, it helps because I have people that actually care. Not just somebody around to be around.”

Noah worked as a F.L.I.P. worker for two and a half years before shifting to his current role as a Case Manager at Target Area. He now helps at-risk individuals get job readiness training, as well as leads to new opportunities. He also advanced his own skills by receiving a forklift certification.

At 25, Noah has seen enough and done enough on this earth; his resilience is nothing short of amazing. His drive and ultimate success comes out of wanting to help his community and be a beacon of light.

“I just really want to help other people. By me helping other people, I know it’s going to turn out good. The outcome is going to always be good,” Noah said. “There’s going to be some bumps in the road, but that’s just the devil trying to tear you down. I just can’t let him do it.”

“You have one life to live. You got to make the best of it no matter what.”

Target Area Development is one of 13 organizations that make up Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), a coalition, convened by Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, focused on reducing gun violence in 28 of Chicago’s highest-risk neighborhoods.