LONG BRANCH: The partnership of the NAACP and the Men Make a Difference (M2AD) organization sponsored a special breakfast get together at Second Baptist Church on March 19. The event was to continue guidance in the community and bring more men into a more active role as leaders, community supporters, and most importantly, an active presence as fathers guiding their children.
The partnership mission is to "provide guidance for young people through mentoring, tutoring, and positive role modeling." The gathering on Saturday was comprised of men from Long Branch, Asbury Park, Newark and other places. They came together for that purpose. Church and community leaders were a part of the purpose-driven mentors.
Uniquely trained and experienced men and women were there and spent special quality moments with the groups of young people, women with the girls, men with the boys,
A separate panel of speakers addressed the adult attendees. The panel was educators, clergy, professional guidance providers, all fathers who had experienced and overcome significant challenges and growing up difficulties in their youth.
A girls group, and the boys group met separately. The adult group heard a panel in a separate discussion.
M2AD speaker John Blanton and NAACP Bill Dangler set the tone and pace for the morning. Blanton welcomed the gathering and spoke of the role of men in the family, as fathers, as husbands and as role models setting out examples to follow, and values to take on along with and principles by which the boys and girls in the community can grow to be happy and successful grown adults with better families and bringing about a better community.
He spoke of local community where we live and learn, and of building better communities in the county, state and country. The two spoke directly to the boys, girls and adults, parents and others joined by local and state leaders.
The mission was to bring about a greater Long Branch, Asbury Park and the other towns. They joined the M2AD and NAACP spokespersons who help participants to find a way to individual and community success.
After a great breakfast made for them by the women who support the work, the mothers, aunts, and other women volunteers, the group was assigned to special mentors, persons to share their experiences, and talk about matters to inspire the younger attendees to set a course for life.
Girls took one room at the church facility, and the boys another. The boys group was larger in size, with ages from 7 to 16, grade school to high school. Their guest speakers included Orlando Vick, a musician many knew and Bobby Young and "Universo" a top notch performer.
The girls met with Theresa Dangler, Dorothy Mc Burough and Jacki Blanton.
All speakers had a personal story to share. They gave the boys ideas for success, tips for becoming active, responsible adults with individually selected careers in sports, business, crafts and skills, the arts and music, and other occupations. They thought about the purposes and the accomplishments they could achieve. The talked about the need for confidence in themselves, planning ahead, including education in their lives - academic, technical, hand skills, and other knowledge paths that appeal to each individually.
For the girls, a smaller group, mostly younger than the boys group, speakers were doing similar things, sharing their experiences, telling about their success and problems they had to overcome, and encouraging planning ahead and deciding what life path each might choose.
In both groups it was stated that life does not always go smoothly. There are often distractions, defined as others who do not take their careers in personal hand, but just move through life with little direction, often getting into trouble, problems and having to pay the consequences for not better preparing for the course they most wish for.
The young people, students from elementary and high schools listened attentively, asked questions and asked for more information about areas of careers. The realities of life were discussed, changing direction and getting advice and help was among the subjects. Even as young people, they heard the time is right to start to see how they can make their life what they want it to be.
The adult panel went on at the same time, parents and other men and women hearing the emergences and successes of clergy, a school leader, a businessman and an author, all of whom had encountered some pitfalls and struggles to achieve their life of success today.
In all it was a great day. The boys and girls told of their meeting when the entire group got back together. Some are still sorting out what they heard. Some will be at future meetings as the partnership continues to provide the guidance and learning opportunities in future gatherings.
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