January 28, 2014

Two Good Men and The Chicken Story

Recently, a couple of really good men have crossed my (digital) path. Both are already solid man-makers and both want to do more. I'm holding these guys up as models for what men can do when they catch man-making fire. You'll also love the chicken story!

"Doc" Warnock

Larry "Doc" Warnock is a licensed massage therapist working in Wakefield, MA, and the Executive Director of The Student/Athlete Educational Foundation. He has been in private practice for more than 25 years and taught massage at the university level. Part of Doc's practice is teen athletes, helping them to perform better, stay healthy and, when necessary, heal from injuries.

Doc sent me an email in response to the Man-Making Blog post on the film, The Mask You Live In, about the destructive messages our culture gives to young males. Here is part of my exchange with Doc:

Earl, thanks for that blog post. I live on the north shore of Boston, an upper class area where everyone puts on a happy face mask but underneath, there are issues. Because of my work as a sports massage therapist, I've met many young men who've come to me over the last 25 years. Because of the nature of my work, there is a natural trust relationship that creates an opportunity for mentoring.

I see young men from "regular families," but also many from dysfunctional families, single parent homes, and other challenging backgrounds. A lot of these guys use sports as a macho cover when, underneath, many are searching for a trusted connection. Everyone in their lives is an authority figure, and when they meet me, they realize I'm willing to listen and not tell them what they have to do. I find these young men often very willing to share their thoughts and feelings openly and appreciate having someone to talk to about the hard parts of their lives. Sometimes even after an injury is healed, they'd come back for more.

Over the years, I have mentored more than 250 of these young men...and many have stayed connected with me through emails, Facebook, etc. Some are now in their 30's and 40's with families of their own, but they still get in touch when they need someone to talk with. I tell people I have one son and 250 kids!

I have one son and 250 kids!

Several years ago, I was hospitalized for two weeks with pancreatitis. Every night, after visiting hours, 2 or 3 boys from the local high school would show up in my room. Each night I chastised them for breaking the hospital rules. The day I was discharged, I apologized to the nurse. She just looked at me and said, "Are you kidding, we couldn't wait for them to get here. They brought pizza and beverages for the staff." Come to find out, these young athletes had formed a group. Two or three signed up to visit me each day. They would then go back to the school the next morning and post my progress on the bulletin board in the locker room! How could I not get well with this support?

 In addition to "my boys", there are so many boys who are homeless as well. This is really frustrating for me and I have nightmares thinking about what to do about them. I'm sad that there are so many young men out there without a safe and trusted person to listen to them and be there for them. I want to find some way to get some older men to come together in support of young men so the older men can have some of the same experiences I've had. I am 74 and, before going into the nursing home, I will form some sort of group or create some kind of safe place around here for boys! Help!

Larry "Doc" Warnock

In response, I told Doc I loved hearing about his powerful passion for and commitment to young guys. His sense of wanting or even needing to do something in support of young men means he was already "in the game," and doing important man-making work. Once a man gets a sense for the difference he can easily and naturally make in a young man's life, the blinders come off. After that, it's hard not to take the experience of needy young men seriously. You can email Doc at doc@chap.com.

Ashanti Branch
Ten years ago Ashanti founded The Ever Forward Club (EFC), a not-for-profit organization in Oakland, CA. The program was started to support young men of color in high school who were failing 50 percent or more of their classes.

In the last ten years, Ashanti has put together a solid, school-based program that's had an amazing impact on countless numbers of kids, a couple of inner-city schools, and their surrounding communities. You can read more about his amazing statistics at this link and hear a recorded interview I did with him about his work and passion. This guy is clearly on man-making fire. Better than me telling you about him, I'll let Ashanti tell you about himself . . . and the chicken story!

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

I hope you find these men as inspirational as I do. But don't put them on a pedestal. You would not be reading this if you didn't care about our young men. If you want to talk about what might be possible for you, give me a shout and we'll brainstorm together. I'm certain there is something you can do, right now, to have an important and positive impact on the lives of the young guys in your world. Start small, but do answer the call to service you hear, and see if you don't catch a little man-making fire.

CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm available to help bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

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