07/18/10 — Boys & Girls Club wants to put boys on path to manhood

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Boys & Girls Club wants to put boys on path to manhood

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 18, 2010 1:50 AM

It's always special when alumni of the Boys & Girls Club return to encourage young people at the club, says Mina Williams, teen director at the Paley Unit on Royall Avenue.

So when several contacted her recently about coming out to speak to a group of young men, she was thrilled.

"It is important to have past members come back and share with the current members what it means to be a part of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County and the difference it can make in your life," she said.

Edward Harris, founder and CEO of Everlasting Investments, grew up participating in events at the Paley Unit. So did several of those working with him.

He spent a recent afternoon, along with three of his employees, sharing their own stories of adversity and overcoming obstacles. And how the club had played a role in decisions that would change the course of their lives, for the better.

"Edward, a member for many years remembered Mr. Marvin (Ford), unit director, telling him as a young boy that he should consider changing the friends he was hanging out with, or he was going to find himself in trouble," Ms. Williams said. "He did not listen and sure enough, trouble found him.

"But another message from Mr. Marvin also sunk in -- that Edward had the potential to be a success one day."

The lessons instilled in Harris as a youth prompted him to want to give back to other young people, Ms. Williams said.

And the effort will continue, she added.

"Edward Harris is going to come back and do a program for us, 'Passport to Manhood,' for grade 10-12 boys, to encourage them to make right choices," she said.

The six-week program will begin July 28, at 2 p.m. and be held for one hour each week. It is open to club members, but others may participate and hopefully decide to join the club, Ms. Williams said.

"We would like to invite all young men to become part of that program -- they will learn about respect, how to tie ties, polish shoes, how to treat themselves well and respect themselves," she said.

In her role as teen director, she has witnessed the value a good example can mean to the youth at the center. She said she is always grateful when a member of the community steps up to assist with getting positive messages out to the boys and girls she serves.

"I think that by Edward being a former member of the club -- and now realizing how important that club was to him, once he decided to change his life -- it's important to have somebody come back who was also once a member, and tell them how to really guy into what we have to offer and learn from it," she said.

For more information on the "Passport to Manhood" program, call the club at 735-2358.