Local Heroes:The Young Men of 504KidsLivesMatter
“One phone call is all it takes, one phone call can make the difference between a kid making it or being lost to the block”
I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was time to put my money and time where my mouth was because actions speak louder than words. So on a Saturday morning, I took part in a Zumba fundraiser for #504KidsLivesMatter Mentoring Program. There were around 60 people who turned out to support our kids to raise money for the program. #504Kids came to life when Blake Jones, Faraji McDonald, and Logan Tillery, coaches of the New Orleans Elite basketball team, realized that they needed to make a bigger impact on the lives of the young men they coached.
“We love basketball, but this is bigger than basketball, we’re trying to change lives”, McDonald said.
“Kids are not being reached and so many kids are growing up with the wrong mentality,” Jones said. “We are trying to teach them that there is life beyond these streets.”
These three young men, along with former standout Brother Martin High School basketball player Jordan Cornish, have taken time out of their lives to offer a different path for the boys they mentor. These three realize their worth and the significance of their presence in our communities. Although they are still learning and growing themselves, they are still filling in the gap for the ones coming up behind them.
These young men give rides to practice, spend all day with these boys at times and even feed their players. They offer love and guidance to the young men who are in their care. Their closeness in age (Jones, McDonald, and Tillery are not far removed from adolescence) also provides common ground that connects them with the players.
It goes without saying that my expectations were far exceeded on this day and the experience was a definite benefit to me. The dedication and path of these young men drew me in and I was inspired to tell someone about their work and works to come. #504KidsLivesMatter has several upcoming events along while still practicing and playing ball. There will be tutoring sessions, a tie tying event, ACT prep and a teen summit, events designed to holistically develop young men.
I knew there were amazing youngsters who are moving the world forward through being the change they want to see. They give of themselves to impact lives in their community, which in turns affects their city.
Jones said, “It’s about raising strong men and building our community.” #Each1SaveSum=Change