Recently, there was an article in The Daily Home in which the writer stated there needs to be more positive male-involvement with today's youth.
As the founder of "Stay Focused," I know there is a definite need for positive male-involvement with our youth.
The organization began and remains in the Knoxville Homes community.
The goal of "Stay Focused" is to assist youths, and their parents, with linkage to requested information and services.
Guests of the organization have included the Talladega Fire Department (fire safety), employees from FCI Talladega (info on gangs and gang activity in the city), Martha Jordan (former warden at FCI Talladega, who discussed her determination to excel), Dr. Doug Campbell (former Talladega City Schools superintendent, who answered questions from parents and students), Wanda Jurriaans (former Talladega County Extension agent), the Talladega Health Department nurse (lessons on issues affecting today's youth), the 100 Men Community Support Group and others.
During all lessons, the youth, especially, were very attentive, and attendance was always good (as high as 34 youths and adults at a single meeting).
But, I, too, was very excited when the 100 Men Community Support Group assisted approximately 12 youths (girls and boys) build birdhouses. Male and female youths eagerly gathered around Matthew Morris (founder of the 100 Men Group) and members Walter Moore, Willie Warwick Jr. and Jim Jackson as they demonstrated how to build a birdhouse and recycle car tags (birdhouse roof).
The looks on the youths' faces were priceless!
Afterwards, each youth made a birdhouse.
During this time, I noticed a connection with the youths and men that appeared natural; however, at the same time, it was as if the experience was something new, but needed and welcomed.
Jurriaans was also present and provided a portion of the materials for the project.
Thanks to the 100 Men Community Support Group for being there to assist not only our youths, but the elderly, needy and disabled.
I asked Morris what motivated him to organize the group. He stated there was a need, and God put it in his heart to use men to fill the void.
The Rev. Hugh Morris stated he joined the group to help young men and people who need assistance. The Rev. David McGhee stated his reason for joining was to help encourage men to be better men and to stay out of trouble.
The 100 Men Group has assisted young men in gaining their GED diploma and employment, adopted families during Christmas, assisted with providing temporary shelter for those in need, adopted the Horace Sims Headstart (former Eastside Headstart), donated money to Talladega County Central, held cookouts and kite-flying day in Knoxville Homes and Westgate, and provides lawn service and small home repairs for the elderly, needy or disabled.
The group meets at Peace Baptist Church, where the Rev. Van Tony Welch is the pastor, every fourth Saturday of the month at 9 am.
-- Maxine Beck writes about the African-American community in and around Talladega.