LONG BRANCH:Forty men from the community met in the conference center at Second Baptist Church on Liberty Street to meet and talk about how the men of the community could work together, reaching out to other here and in the city, to other towns around in order to bring about change, positive change for the community and for its individual residents.
At the center of the gathering was Bill Dangler, President of the Greater Long Branch NAACP and John Blanton, a graduate of Long Branch HS, who works in West Orange, where he runs a company and leads a group called "Men Can Make a Difference".
It is a relatively new and growing organization committed to improving the quality of life in every way in local New Jersey communities. "M2AD" will eventually reach out across the state and into other states where similar undertakings are in progress.
The breakfast meeting was one of teaching and preaching, and sharing from the leaders and visitors, clergy and citizens taking leadership roles, and committing to move ahead.
Dangler has been supported by NAACP groups in Red Bank, Asbury Park and Neptune, and with organizations like the police departments in the county. All cooperate in the significant, continuing efforts, partnerships that have been addressing the stressful situations around the country. They want to "reclaim" the towns impacted by negative forces. The invitation has gone out to current and future members with a larger, longer range goal, the state.
About fifty men were at the 3-hour session; some came early and had to leave for work, while others came later, from work duties as well. The program schedule gave all the chance to see, hear, ask questions and understand the mission and their roles to play.
The Men Make a Difference plan is to empower men. It is a movement to encourage men to help re-build family values, grow the community around those values, and promote individual and team development.
Blanton asked the group "Am I my brother's keeper?" Where does the thought come from?
From the Bible a guest said, as most nodded agreement, their memories refreshed. "It is from Genesis," said Blanton, where the story of Cain and Able is told.
The message became clearer as he continued, with explanation of the history of the community leading up to the day, a history centuries old here, and similar to the histories elsewhere, some in countries far from here. "Honor thy father and mother" he added to the story.
Discussions focused around such topics as the success predecessors enjoy with their cultural heritage, economic issues and past successes, the fact of class resentments in other societies, value systems forgotten or no longer embraced, education as a basis for social and economic success, success of their earlier societies, discrimination in communities, the importance of each individual, current societal issues like drugs and crime, and the need of pro-action for change.
His group discussion was followed by a talk by Rev. William E. Coleman from North Jersey, where he lives and Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Asbury Park. His wife, NJ Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman is also committed to bringing better lives to the community and the State. Other family members also do their part, he said.
His message was to encourage recognition of the past generations of the members' lineages, days of leaders, educators, economic well-being, peaceful societies, and learned individuals striving to have excellence in their environments.
More meetings of the group are scheduled, the next event is a Holiday Breakfast Celebration, Saturday 12, 9 to 12 at Second Baptist on Liberty Street in Long Branch. Guest speakers will include Pastor Coleman, the spiritual voice for Men Make a Difference and the Long Branch NAACP.