Since my Creepy Guy post a couple weeks ago, I’m on a mission to bring to light the good men who are making a positive difference in young male lives. Recently, I was part of the launch of an extraordinary program called Str8Street. It’s a Carson City, Nevada community program with the potential to reach out to lost and gang-vulnerable young males. In Carson City, there is a growing presence of mostly white and Hispanic gangs. One young man, named Jose, had managed to step out of a gang, gotten clean, and then approached the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada Mentor Center with an idea. He wanted to do something to keep young kids off the streets and out of the gang life.
About the same time, the staff of the Mentor Center had heard me speak at a conference on how to get men to show up for young males. We all got connected, had many conversations, and together came up with the idea for Str8Street. The goal of the program is to get a diverse tribe of good men involved in doing things with a multicultural mix of young boys before they are old enough to hear the powerful call into gangs.
For Str8Street’s introduction, we invited men from all parts of the community to a presentation I did titled, Building the Men’s Hut: A Conversation about Men, Manhood, and the Boys in Our Village. In attendance were male staff from the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, parole officers, the sheriff, past gang members, college kids, some young dudes, and many good men from the community. No women were allowed. The result of that program, simply put, was almost unanimous support for the intentions and goals of the program. Many men signed up to participate, community support was enlisted, and a launch date chosen.
The launch event was an overnight campout full of games, adventure, food, and time around the fire. Males of all ages and backgrounds were present, shared in the events, and, most importantly, shared their stories and hopes for the future of Str8Street. At the end of the campout, all the participants got a silver dog tag that read Str8Street, marking their participation and the common bond that had been established.
What is so innovative about this program is that good men from all parts of the community are involved. The program keeps men engaged because most of the activities appeal to males of all ages, and the time investment is very short term. In addition to the fun, men get to meet, hang out with new men friends and experience the satisfaction of making a positive contribution to their community. It also is true that adult male hearts are often profoundly softened by the connection to the young dudes.
If you know of a program in which good men are making a difference in boy’s lives, let me know and we’ll put the word out here.
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