Mentoring to Manhood is a program of Community Youth Advance focused on supporting young men of color through mentorship, character building and life skills.
Recently, we asked one of our graduating senior Andre and his brother Adriene to reflect on their experiences with
the program and the lessons and skills they have learned that will sustain them even in the changing world of COVID-19.
I started in M2M at the age of fifteen. My mom, who is a single divorce mother taking care of three boys, searched hard and long to find a Mentoring program to help her raise her boys to men. My mother always told me that she can show my brothers and I what is right and what is wrong in life, but she cannot show us how to be strong black men.
What I cherish about M2M is that they believe in God and that is what my mother instilled in my brothers and I, how to Love and to Love through the covering of Christ. M2M understands that is important to my family.
M2M has shown me how to carry myself courageously, independently, and humbly by placing me with my Mentor Mr. Page. Mr. Page is an important aspect in our lives. He has helped my brother and I understand the importance of real life and how to be a man in Christ. Mr. Page has a strong background and stability in his church and he spends one day a week with my brothers and I. Spending that time is one thing I really like about Mr. Page, because my brothers and I
don't have our biological father in our life. Mr. Page is there for us in that way. Mr. Page takes time out of his life and family to mentor my brothers and I. He helps us move towards adulthood by helping us prioritize healthy food choices and understand mature reading essentials. Mr. Page is involved in my school events and when I got my first summer job, Mr. Page was there to support me all the way through. He always encouraged and celebrated my goal
achievements. I was such a great employee that the summer job did not end until November. Mr. Page reminds me all the time that focusing on education now will help me succeed in college. My brothers and I have never had any problems with our grades in school due to my Mom’s hard work and dedication to pushing us. We have always been on the honor roll in school, but we were missing the strong male guidance that was needed in our lives. On Saturdays at M2M we have training and challenging life skills classes. Demonstrations are conducted regularly, and we have a lot of special guests that come and visit to share their knowledge and adventures with us at M2M headquarters.
One guest that I really appreciated chatting with was a banker from Wells Fargo Bank. He was very knowledgeable about saving money and investing your funds. He inspired me so much that I asked my Mom to take me to open a savings and checking account at a credit union. The Banker had explained that opening your first account at a credit union is very wise. He explained that credit unions have more opportunities like getting a car loan or even qualifying for a mortgage loan with very low interest rates. Another guest that visited M2M at headquarters was a Seamstress for suits and business attire. That gentleman talked with us about dressing for success. I never wanted to wear a suit, tie or a button up shirt, I always wanted to wear tennis shoes, sweatpants, t-shirts and jeans. The gentleman expressed that you should always have business attire to any type of job interview. He said that even if you are going to interview for a job at a gym, you still need to look professional. Dressing in the appropriate attire is your first impression to an employer and you can make a positive impression through your appearance.
Another important subject that we discuss at M2M and is Communication. We communicate every day and everyone should understand how to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings with others in a gentle, professional way. In our communication discussions we were taught appropriate communications strategies with different audiences like our parents and our peers. Appropriate communications strategies and behaviors help in learning knowing how to deal with discrimination in this world. I feel that the void has been filled in my life by Mr. Page and the M2M mentors. They are positive male figures for my brothers and I to look up to. I have learned how to save and spend my money wisely, and how to express compassion. I am still learning how to love and treat people the way I would like to be treated and the best lesson overall is constantly learning how to stand my ground as a young black man in every situation with integrity, grace and perseverance.