Twenty-one years ago, Maurice Okereke experienced what he calls “a spiritual rebirth.”
Since that time, he hasn’t been able to stop putting pen to paper.
Okereke is known to most of his colleagues at New Community Extended Care Facility as the activity assistant with a special gifting for engaging elderly residents. However, Okereke also happens to be a writer who has produced a five-volume collection of spiritually-themed pieces.
“I don’t classify it as poetry even though it has poetic elements to it,” said Okereke, whose collection is titled “Spiritually Intact.”
Writing is a discipline and Okereke said he aims to produce two writings a month. At the end of each year, he will have a collection of 24 pieces to produce into a bound volume. He wrote his first volume in 2006 and anticipates that volume six will be completed in 2018.
A self-described believer in Jesus Christ, Okereke said his goal is to write about important topics and use language that makes his writing relevant to readers.
Not an accident initiated by chance,
Not a matter of luck or happenstance
For those who’re trying to explain away the circumstance
“For those who believe, we’re here for a purpose,” said Okereke, who views his writing as a personal form of ministry. He touches on politics, faith, morality, stereotypes, extremism, commercialism and a host of other hot-button issues.
Born in west Africa, Okereke is the eldest of five siblings and has lived in Newark for 17 years.
At New Community Extended Care Facility, a 180-bed skilled nursing facility located at 266 South Orange Ave. in Newark, Okereke can often be found leading activities for residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. “I like the relating aspect most of all,” he said of interacting with residents at Extended Care, where he has worked since 2014.
Initially, Okereke started as a volunteer at the nursing home to fulfill a requirement for studying physical therapy. Prior to that, he studied computer science.
Looking to the future, Okereke said he wants to share his writings with more people “on a broader platform.”
“The bottom line is to share and bring certain truths to people’s attention,” he said.