August 13, 2014

We Got This - Young Dudes Cleaning Up the Hood!

Why would fifty young males actually show up to do some cleaning at 8 AM on a Saturday morning?

If you've been reading the Man-Making Blog for a while, you know I'm crazy for the stories where one man gets an idea and winds up changing the world . . . or at least the lives of people in his corner of the world. This is one of those stories and the man, one of my heroes, is Andre Ellis from Milwaukee.

Andre in black hat
In a story by WUWM - Milwaukee Public Radio, Andre is described as a playwright, a community gardener, and the man behind the "We Got This" program. As is often the case, the idea for a program to support young black youth actually came to get Andre, but he stepped up to grow and develop the idea.

It began last spring when an 11-year-old named Jermaine got arrested for breaking and entering. Jermaine is from a part of Milwaukee where thousands of the men are currently or have been in prison. It's a place with few jobs, lots of poverty, drugs, violence, and all the things that go along with those conditions.

When the boy's mom came to Andre with the sad story of her son's arrest, he was able to intervene with the police and get him released. Andre offered Jermaine $20 if he would meet him on a Saturday morning and do some "cleaning up where he messed up!" Jermaine did show up and worked hard alongside Andre. They had some great conversation and the two guys bonded some. The following Saturday, Jermaine showed up with 5 friends all ready to work . . . and get paid.

Andre saw what might be possible, put out the call for men and money, and the "We Got This" program was launched. On a given Saturday now, up to fifty young men show up and are put to work cleaning up their community. They are mentored along the way by some of the men from the community. Not only is this a rare opportunity for young guys to become a part of community life by being in service, but they get the additional benefits of being around good men too. The twenty bucks doesn't hurt either.

"I am great. I am mighty.
I am awesome. I am magnificent....”

You can read the whole story on the WUWM website. On that page you can also hear the audio report and, in it, hear Andre pumping up the young men with inspiration and guidance. The boys follow his lead and chant, "I am great. I am mighty. I am awesome. I am magnificent....” This is one beautiful story of a good man caring about a young guy and being willing to step into action.

Andre is making a huge difference in the lives of many young men and in the life of his community. At the same time, I am absolutely certain that the adult men working with him in the "We Got This" program with him are getting the gifts of brotherhood, pumped-up male-esteem, and the respect and gratitude of their neighbors. These brothers are doing men's work and everyone benefits when that happens and when men say, "We Got This!"

Everyone benefits when men say,
"We Got This!"

Just imagine what you and a couple of your men friends might create for a few of the young dudes in your community. If, after reading this, you have even a hint of "maybe I could do something," contact me and let's kick some ideas around. I know two things for sure: Because you're reading this, you are the man for the job, no question. Second, I'm just as certain there are a few young guys out there, right now, waiting for you to show up.

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