Monday September 14, 2015, 11:31 am. I step into Starbucks with two cameras, an iPad, and a fully charged voice recorder (aka my iPhone) in hand, expectant and eager for my long and overdue meeting. The aroma of coffee quickly fills my nostrils as I mentally order a grande vanilla iced coffee with milk and a pink cake pop. Thinking I’ll wait for my interviewee since I’m a half hour early, I come to find him with a table secured and a strawberries and cream frappuccino. He quickly stands up to give me a hug with the biggest smile as he always does at church. We have a lot to catch up on. Introducing, Tay Copeland!
My name’s Tay, I’m from Pontiac [Michigan] and grew up in Pontiac. I go to Oakland Community College; my major is Business Management. I made my official decision [to come to the Lord] the summer of my seventh grade year going into eighth grade and that’s when I really decided to be all in and commit to doing it. I got baptized that August and it’s been amazing ever since then.
fashion meets God: You’re the first menswear feature for fmG! How would you describe your personal style?
Tay Copeland: I feel like my style’s a white-boy, hip-hop type swag. That’s how my family sees it too, they’re like, “You dress like a white boy.” I’m like, “I feel like I dress like Tay,” (laughs). But that’s what I think it is, or, some type of “classy swag.”
fmG: I love how eccentric your outfits can be. I see you at church and you’re usually in something bright and different or you put two things together and layer. Where do you shop?
TC: Ooo, a variety of places. I actually have a motto. It’s called, “Shop Cheap, Look Expensive.” I know where to find cheap things and just mix-and-match; I’m really good at mixing-and-matching. I shop at a variety of places like Rue 21, H&M, Forever 21, and anywhere I can get my hands on [cheap clothing]. But every now and then I treat myself to Guess or Express. Can’t always go cheap!
fmG: You are involved with Power Company Kids Club. What exactly is Power Company?
TC: Power Company is a kids organization that was established 23 years ago by John Gunn. It is all because of a knock on his grandmother’s door that saved him and his family. Then [he had] this vision when he got older to help the inner city kids of Pontiac and bring them to Christ.
We bring them to our building in Pontiac every week; over hundreds of kids for two sessions. [We] play games but then have a lesson time for the last 10-15 minutes and give them Power Points and memory verses. Then we send them home with candy or some type of food. It’s fun, it’s great.
fmG: What is your specific involvement with Power Company?
TC: Right now I play two roles. I am currently an intern so I’m learning the ropes of how the ministry works and what it takes to get a Saturday [session] going or a school assembly. Other than that, I am a team leader and run a route in Power Company. We have 12 different routes and I run Route 10 (whoop whoop!). I visit that section of Pontiac, tell the kids what’s going on that week, and just love on those kids and those families.
fmG: I’m sure you hear and see a lot of brokenness in kids’ eyes when you’re involved with Power Company. How do you encourage them and how do you keep yourself encouraged?
TC: That’s simple. It’s really just God’s love. It can’t get any simpler than that. Just loving on those kids and letting them know that everything’s going to be better. When they come see us they know that they’re in a happy place; this is their escape for them. Just to see the smiles on their faces and encouraging them- that’s all that keeps me encouraged. I know that I’m doing God’s work and doing it right.
Recently, I just heard a story about this lady, she’s older now. [Power Company] asked her, “Is there any moment in life when you were happy?” And she was like, “I remember when I was younger I would go to Power Company.” [Power Company] affects these kids and to know that it’s with them in the long run is just amazing.
fmG: You went on a missions trip to South Africa with Power Company this past summer. How was your experience there?
TC: It was so great. It was great getting to be on different land; that was my first time traveling outside of America. It was such a different atmosphere. The trip was so great. I got to meet new people, learn new things. It made me open my eyes to things I never thought about. Living in America, we take so many things for granted but when you go and do [mission trips] it really changes your perspective on things. People need to do it. It’s something that you need to experience.
fmG: What would you say to those who believe that Pontiac and other similar inner city communities are hopeless to restore?
TC: If there’s one thing to say about an inner city where people think that there’s no hope- there’s always hope. As long as we’re serving a good God, a living God, there’s always hope. I grew up in Pontiac and I grew up through Power Company…these types of ministries reach out to the kids when they’re younger to train them and to become champions. That’s our motto at Power Company, “Empower children, building champions” and that’s what we’re doing. There’s never a moment where there’s no hope. There’s always hope in the root of all the mess. There’s hope everywhere and hope happens here.
Thank you Tay for sharing your style and story! Continue to be a radiating source of God’s light and love to the children and community of Pontiac!
Denim jacket: H&M • Shirt: Champs • Pants: Rue 21 • Shoes: Kohl’s
For more information on Power Company Kids Club, click here.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:14