Published: Monday, January 15, 2007
Local chapter to help youths
The organization has adopted a local school for boys.
YOUNGSTOWN A national organization focused on mentoring black youths and enhancing educational and economic opportunities for all blacks has found a home in the city.
The 100 Black Men of America Inc. was founded in 1963 in New York by a group of black men concerned with improving conditions in the black community. The organization has since grown to 110 chapters across the country.
The Youngstown/Warren chapter of 100 Black Men was inducted in December with 27 members and about six prospective members.
Shareef Ali, president of 100 Black Men of Greater Youngstown and Warren, attempted to start a local chapter here several years ago, but was not successful.
According to Ali, he and several other men were discussing the organization in 1999 when he decided to work toward creating a local chapter. Ali said he contacted the national organization to get "chapter building materials," sent 100 letters to various local people and hosted three meetings to garner local interest. But interest did not seem to be there, he said.
"Ultimately, it kind of fell to the wayside," he said.
Ali said he was deployed to serve during Operation Enduring Freedom and attended several funerals for fallen soldiers. It was during one of those funerals that he decided to give a local chapter another try.
Ali said he spoke with the fiancée of a fallen soldier who indicated the best way for him to honor the soldier would be to do something for young people.
Ali said he and the 27 initial members started doing the necessary work to start a chapter, including drafting a three-year business plan, gaining support from the community and obtaining letters of financial support from the business community.
"We recognize the children of this community represent our future, so we worked diligently to bring this initiative to fruition," he said.
Ali said the timing and attitude in the community were the key factors that made a second attempt at starting a local chapter successful.
Now that the local chapter has been formed, Ali said participants will set about the business of working with young people. The local chapter has "adopted" the Alpha School of Excellence for Young Men on the South Side, and Ali wants to spend the first year creating a strong relationship with the school.
"The cornerstone of the organization is mentoring. Those who participate become part of a global initiative serving as a strong force for overcoming cultural and financial obstacles that stifle men, women and children," he said.
While the organization is composed mostly of men, women will not be excluded from the efforts of the local chapter, Ali said. Women will be a major part of committees in 100 Black Men of Greater Youngstown and Warren, he noted.
"Our biggest supporters nationally are women. Women in the black community have led the community so long, they allow us to lead. They are our encouragers," he said.
Ali said young people will be the benefactors of any successes of the group, and he encourages those in the community to take part.
"Our young people are looking forward to being the benefactors of our successes so every man who knows how to care beyond his own family should want to be a part of this initiative," he said.