Celebrity comedian hosts community forum - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Celebrity comedian hosts community forum


A unique mentoring event Saturday was spearheaded by one of the greats in comedy and morning radio.

Steve Harvey called on African-American men to help young boys and teens in the community.

"We're connecting, we're partnering with other organizations because I may not have all the answers but there's someone else that does," said Pastor Kelly Simmons of Rocnation Church.

 Panelists from the greater Columbia area are looking for answers to some issues that plague young African-American males.

"Kids don't care whether or not you got money or you don't," said Jimmy Wright of Concerned Black Men. "They know they need help. The best thing you can possibly give is your manpower. That doesn't cost anything except your time."

Community support, education, parenting, stereotypes, incarceration are just some barriers the mentors say they want to overcome in order to help young males succeed.

"To get them these resources we first must have to have the listening ear instead of merely just hearing what our young people are saying," said Avery Wells of Midlands Tech.

Single mother Collette Jones said she needs a mentor who can really identify with her 11-year- old son.

"I don't want anyone to come and mentor my son out of obligation or out of 'okay, this is a box I have to check because I'm giving back to the community.'" said Jones. "I want your heart to be into it."

That is part of the mission of the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign -- to pair strong, motivated and committed black men with kids who need role models.

"Mr. Harvey decided to use his voice and his passion to awaken the spirits of the men to hear the men that are currently here," said Gerald Washington of Steve Harvey World Group.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Concerned Black Men, churches, schools and different community groups gave ideas to make sure the youth stay positive and productive.

"You can't approach each child in the same manner just because he's a young black male," said Jones. "Each child is different. You can't copy and paste."

"Mentoring to me is helping trouble kids who need it," said fifth-grader Devin Dean, Jr.

"When you are a mentor you have got to be committed to donating your time so you can have an impact to make them a success," said mentor Avery C. Fields, Jr.

"So our goal is to spearhead an awakening to create a movement that surpasses what we could ever imagine," said Gerald Washington with Steve Harvey World Group. "The number of men in the room is important but it's not as important as the number of men who are active and make change happen."

"It's our opportunity and responsibility to the community to wrap our arms around them to give them the hedge of protection they need to do the things they can do," said Mayor Steve Benjamin. "Then we'll expect them to live up to their God-given potential. That's our job."

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