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WANTED: Male Mentors

By Raymond Jackson

Not only is Minneapolis in dire need of mentors for children, but cities throughout America are too. This is a need for all children, especially children of color and young boys. On Thursday December 10th, former editor of Essence magazine and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, Ms. Susan Taylor, visited the Twin Cities to help launch the Minneapolis CARES Mentoring Movement. The Minneapolis CARES Mentoring Movement, founded by V.J. Smith, President of MAD DADS, an organization that reaches out to teens and young adults who are seeking alternatives to negative social interaction, is reaching out to the Twin Cities for help in locating mentors for the many parentless youth, searching for a brighter and more positive future. MAD DADS, Minneapolis Chapter, has existed for over ten years and has been very successful in turning lives around for the better! Mr. Smith says, “We are saving lives by helping young people not succumb to the negative forces around them! But we do need help in this effort, especially from men of color who have overcome the odds of not being successful. We need people to give just a few hours each month mentoring some of our children.”

Collaborators with Minneapolis CARES include, Big Brothers Big Sisters Greater Twin Cities; Bolder Options; Kinship of Greater Minneapolis; The City of Minneapolis and Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota. Together they will host seven more mentor recruitment events in 2010.

The initial event, held on December 10, took place at The International Market Square, and featured Ms. Taylor as the keynote speaker. She spoke eloquently of the need for male mentors, most particularly, mentors of African American decent. She solemnly spoke of that loss in her life, and the struggles she faced as a result of it; a void that was very hard to fill. I later spoke with her during her book signing and she said, “we loose too many men to violence and incarceration, which leaves way too many children fatherless. The children are then swayed toward anything they see as a possible filling for that void in their lives. Often that turns out to be a negative void replacement. We need positive void replacements and black men must stop loosing their children through violence and incarceration.”

When speaking with Ms. Taylor you can sense the earnest concern she has for the children and the parents; which is why she started, The National CARES Mentoring Movement. America is seeing an alarmingly high rate of African Americans being incarcerated. Families being torn apart and children being left parentless. The vision for Ms. Taylor and Mr. Smith is to invite African Americans in Minneapolis to reach out to the African American children waiting on the collective list of local mentoring organizations. To get involved call: Big Brothers Big Sisters @ 651-789-2447; Bolder Options @ 612-379-2653; or Kinship @ 612 588-4655.
The next recruiting event will be February 12th, 11-5pm at the IDS Crystal Court, in downtown Minneapolis. The public is invited.

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