Anwan Wesley

(Photo: Brian Cook)

Anwan Wesley (Photo: Brian Cook)

Fathers are an essential component of the family unit. Anwan Wesley, founder of Fatherhood Outreach Programs in Pittsburgh, realized this for himself as a young father. Now he has four children and, through his many community and personal initiatives, is embracing his title not only for his own children, but also for those in need of protection and support in Homewood and beyond.

Wesley grew up on Inwood Street in Homewood, surrounded by influences both positive and negative. As a child, while his neighborhood experienced an increase in crime and violence, he found stability in his father’s evangelism and community initiatives. Although he moved to Penn Hills as a teenager, he kept himself in spaces that encouraged growth and fellowship. He was one of the first attendees at Imani Christian Academy, a faith-based independent school that started in a house in Edgewood and is now located in East Hills. There, he was further able to appreciate the sanctity of a solid support system.

With so many opportunities for his own growth, it is no surprise that Wesley began his own initiative to help others. After becoming a father, he found that the role naturally suited his push to inspire and uplift. In 2003, he created Fatherhood magazine, a publication for fathers-to- be in communities like Homewood. The magazine, first published in 2006, was a gateway to many more of his ventures; his newest is the iLoveLife! Campaign 4 Love Movement, a brand of clothing depicting positive messages.

Wesley also uses his background in mentorship to coach youth sports. He became the head coach of the varsity boys’ basketball team for his alma mater Imani Christian Academy in 2015. The team has fared successfully under his leadership. In his second season, the players were section champions in WPIAL 1A Section, and runner-ups in the conference championship; last year, they were able to make it to the state playoffs. Affectionately known as “Coach Wan,” he also heads a year-round basketball program consisting of leagues, camps, clinics, and tournaments for younger students at Imani, Crescent Elementary in Homewood, and the Homewood-Brushton YMCA.

However, it is Wesley’s four children — ages 17, 13, 12, and 4 — who inspire him the most to continue his activism. Interacting with their friends and relatives has allowed him to create a connection between other community members, which he uses in his work. He has found that personal connections are an effective way to reach and teach young people, to help them best exercise their potential. In calling fathers to step up to their responsibilities, he also has created deeper relationships between families, making for a community strengthened by love.