Prince George’s County Mentoring Matters Program: Mentors Got Played Big Time at the Expense of the Youth

In 2005, I made a decision to step up to the plate and actually give back to my community.  no longer was I just going to blog about problems in prince George’s County, I was going to make a conscience effort to become a mentor to young black males.

Our young black men are at the top of every negative social ill.  It seems like every week a new study comes out that painfully reminds us that black men are in crisis. 

So in November 2005 I inquired about  County Executive’s Jack Johnson’s “Men-to-Men Youth Empowerment Coalition”  I completed the application, submitted my resume and awaited a response…..  A response that I never received.  In December I decided to call John Edmunds, who is listed as the program’s Executive Directer, to inquire about the status of my application.  He informed me that the board will look it over and meet with me; needless to say that never happened.

In January of 2006, I tried again to contact Mr. Edmunds and he informed me that the program had been put on hold because the County was forming a new mentoring Venture:  the Prince George’s County Mentoring Matters Partnership.  This program would combine County Executive Johnson’s mentoring program with other county mentoring programs.  At this point I was really excited; but that was short lived……….

The new mentoring partnership kicked off in March of 2006.  They had a huge conference at the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, MD.  they advertised like crazy for this kick off program.  They made a call for black men to sign up as mentors and invited students from all over the county to come out for this historic county event.  Washington Post writers  Ovetta Wiggins and Avis Thomas-Lester  covered and wrote an article about the event.  Out of excitement I even blogged about the event.

The conference was a huge success.  “Anyone who was Anyone” in Prince Goerge’s County politics was in attendance; Major Riddick and local church members.  Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan gave a speech in support of our county; and of course our “beloved” County Executive Jack Johnson gave an emotional speech about giving back and forming community partnerships.  All of the brothers who attended, left the conference feeling confident that we could truly make a difference in the lives of our black male youth.

After the conference in March, I heard nothing else about the program.  4 Months had passed and in July I called John Edmunds to find out what was going on.  He informed me that they are waiting on a budget and to call back in a month.  That was the last time I heard from John Edmunds.  I tried calling several times after, but never got a call back;  what a let down.  My county stabbed me and other black men who answered the call for action and social responsibility in the back; the door slammed right in our faces. 

What ever happened to the program?  I, like many other black men, signed up to become mentors to the hundreds of black youth who attended and we have not heard anything from the County. Was this effort put on just to get Jack Johnson re-elected?   I want answers, so since the county will not respond, I decided to get the two sisters who covered the story in the Washington Post to help me get those answers.  I emailed them asking to do a follow-up story to get to the bottom of this.  I will keep you posted.

That was last year, and since then I have decided to start my own mentoring program at Central High School in Capitol Heights, MD.   But I am making sure, that as a tax payer, I am will not be taken for granted. 

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19 Responses

  1. We have a wealth of booklets, articles and research available for download at: http://www.3creek.com/resources/resources.htm

    These resources are available free of charge to promote the practice of mentoring.

  2. That’s tragic.

  3. I am having the same problem. For the past couple of months I have been in search of a mentoring program so I can become a mentor to teenage girls. However, I have had no luck. I have searched the web for programs in PG community because I want to provide for my community, but have had no luck. I have looked at the PG public schools website, PG parks, and tried the search engine and have found nothing. I have submitted an application and attended the Sister 2 Sister Mentoring Matters at Dr. Henry Wise High School several months ago, but never got a response thereafter. Bottom line is, PG County youths need mentors and there are people who want to volunteer their time in the community, just don’t know how.

    Thank you

  4. I also spoke with John Edmounds with the same result. It is a shame that our government officials do not take seriously the plight of so many of our young men. I also started a mentoring program at my church in PG County. Hopefully, our efforts will pay off since we can not get support from the government to whom we pay taxes.

  5. Mike:

    Man I can’t tell you how frustrated I am with our county government. And they can’t even give us a straight answer. Tomorrow, Sat. March 3, the county is having a crime forum and I plan to be there. and ask Glen Ivy if he knows why the couny executive bailed on the program and the youth of the county

  6. Greetings It is a shame that the government claims to have a program that seems to be nonexistent but if I’m gathering right from your words you are waiting for them to make a change that they are paid to do and haven’t been doing. The Only Solution right now is for you to form a program to do the type of mentoring you want to do and work strategic partnerships with other organizations to get this a reality. If you live in PG County and are waiting for a lottery ticket and have not gone to the store it is not going to happen. Nothing is going to happen in the county unless you make it happen. My suggestion is get a group of your friends who are about making things happen and set up your own program. Once you have a program you should be able to justify a grant and get the money or equivalent from the county or a great benefactor. I also would suggest that you try to work with other organizations so you can form a mentoring coalition and replace the state half baked program. But I would not waste time with people who are just letting hot air out. If you need ideas on how to get this started shoot me an email….
    Sorry but this is no brainer… By the way even with what I have said which is to press on with your own program that doesn’t mean that you do not hold the Officials accountable.
    NJ King-Campbell

  7. Hi Nichole:

    I indicated in the last paragraph of my post that I have started my own program. And I still want them to be held accountable as well. Thanks for your response

  8. Okay so what’s the plan to hold them accountable? Let me know if I can help. I am all about making things happen. Do you have a website for your program because it probably needs to be extended to friendly. Whenever I’m home I’m chasing young men back to school (and stop hanging out in the park). The other day though I changed my tune and asked them if they needed some mentors but they have not gotten back in contact with me.

    Nichole

  9. So I’m a little ways north of you all – up 95 a piece and I have experience working with persons connected to the PG County Mentoring Matters Partnership. I pray that since this post has been published things have changed. The PG group recently (Jan. 07) partnered with an organization that I’m connected to and the results were outstanding.

    If anyone needs resources about mentoring in Maryland (or even national efforts) feel free to contact me.

    oh yea – “amen” to the comments about holding elected officials accountable. I spent more time in Annapolis during the legislative session this year than I ever have. Those folks need to see and hear from “everyday citizens” on a regular basis.

  10. I guess I am in the same boat as the rest of you only I am just starting to look into this. A bit of personal history, my husband and I (married 2 1/2 years) are struggling with our teens. We are a combined family of now 6 children ranging from age 8 – 21. Four of our children reside with us now, the oldest two are with their other parent and extremely dysfunctional in spite of all efforts. The four with us are gradually slipping as they get older and progress through our troubled PG County School system and we are at wits end about what to do. Like many of “the richest black county” residents, we work hard to provide a life for our families better than what our parents could afford, yet our kids are out of control. Recently searching for a residential troubled teen program for our 14 year-old, honor roll, church youth volunteer, usher board member, talented and gifted, former basketball baseball and track athlete, now repeated runaway, sexually active, alcohol and drug experimenting daughter I was unable to find anything suitable locally so this weekend we are taking her to an outstanding Christian youth academic and therapeutic facility that is 500 miles away and hitting us up for a substantial amount that we had to apply for an education loan for. In addition, not that this matters much, it is run by a Caucasian couple who finally decided that they wanted to make a difference in the lives of young girls who were not bad but just made bad decisions. My question is, where are our programs “richest black county”? Why aren’t we saving our own girls and boys “richest black county”? I am ready and willing to quit my 9 – 5 and work with others who are ready and willing to do the same in order to save our kids. They are our future and it looks really grim. Our half million and up dollar homes and Cadillac Escalades are beginning to be at the expense of our children’s well-being. I AM committing myself right now to do what I have to so that this does not continue so everyone’s prayers and encouragement are needed. I had been warned about my daughter attending Friendly High School but was in no way prepared for what we are experiencing as a result of what goes on on a daily basis in many of our tax funded public schools. The information you all have written just reinforces my intent on creating our own program and I only hope that as I do I get the support needed to sustain. As I progress, I will keep in touch. Anyone wishing to contact me can do so at mrsvaslim@veroizon.net. Prayer and words of support and encouragement would be great because I realize that this is going to be a great task and I will face many obstacles and frustrations but I also realize that this is our purpose in life and the 9 – 5 is just making investors rich while our middle class kids are becoming spiritually poor.

  11. Hello,

    I live in Prince Georg’s County and looking for a mentor for a young black male (15 yrs). A couple of you have indicated that you have started a mentor program. Can you please provide me with your contact information.

    Thanks

  12. I just noticed this post. I hadn’t learned of this blog back in Jan. It would be interesting to see an update on this. The Prince George’s Co. Volunteer Center has a zip code volunteer search which includes mentors: http://www.princegeorgesvolunteer.org/

    There are a lot of organizations who use mentors listed there, too. I think the idea of following up and giving the county hell if they are not following through with their program is a good idea. They should be able to find the funds for a program like this.

  13. If you’re looking for someone to motivate your kids give me a call @ 301-343-7161.

  14. This blog is very informational. I am a single mother of two, trying to raise a black 14 year old talented young man, which has been diagnosed with having bipolar disorder. And a 8 year old daughter who has been TAG and is scared for her brother’s life. I have had so many run-ins with PGC it’s ridiculous, my son was discharge from RICA Southern Maryland’s Residential Program at the beginning of this year, with promises of receiving out-patient therapy and a numerous amount of resources, that we have yet to see. The program that he was assigned to Villa Maria, which has offices in PG county and Anne Arundel County. They have also told me numerous times that they could not offer my son curtain services, because PG county would not fund them. Also, I was told that if I live in another county it would be easier to receive better services, because those county get funding. I am truly applaud that it takes me to move somewhere that I probably can’t afford to receive better services for my son. I have made so many sacrifices for my son , and I am willing to make more, but where is our tax dollars going if there are not being put back in our communities. Jack Johnson claims he’s looking for solutions for the crime, young pregnancies, robberies and murder rates. Well it seems to me if he’s not willing to put the funding back into our communities, then these are the things that will occur. I am also looking for mentoring in my community, my son loves sports and plays football like he’s in the NFL. I praying that someone can offer me so guideless through this madness. I wish all of the other suffering for answers parents well in their search, I know of a program which also assist in supporting parents and teens through support issues, but it deals with emotional support instead of behavioral. The name is NAMI…..God Bless!

  15. Help me please! I have a 10 year old fatherless boy who I’ve deemed is in need of a godly, dependable man who can be a positive role model, who can be that consistent and caring adult, friend and mentor to help me mold him into a man. He loves basketball and wants to be a snare drummer. We live in Prince George’s County, Suitland/Marlow Heights/Temple Hills area. Please provide your contact information — send to minusreinhardt@yahoo.com a big “THANK YOU” to all of you “MEN” who step up to the plate for our youth boys-n-girls in need. GOD BLESS you!!!

  16. Hi! I’m not sure if you are talking about the program I am involved with http://www.iiiinc.org/mentoringmatters.php. I actually applied to be a mentor last year and have been paired with a teenage female, which I asked for. It took a while for me to be matched with the person who met my criteria, but Mentoring Matters was very patient with me. I encourage all of you to apply to this program, if you haven’t. Even if it was the program that had frustrated you, try again. Maybe it just happened to be bad timing. I am an Asian female, but I know this program really encourages and needs black males to be involved and be positive role models. Good luck to you and thank you for wanting to give back to the community. We need more people like you!

  17. Hi Sheri:

    The program you are in is nothe same program this blog post is speaking off.

  18. Hi,

    I am, also, a mentor with Mentoring Matters program, http://www.iiiinc.org/mentoringmatters.php, (301 776-4294). I joined the program in spring 97, by being at that right place at the right time, when the coordinator was soliciting by word of mouth (I don’t think they advertise well). The program is excellent for the youth and adult alike. It ‘s mission is to provide mentors for children of all ages through 18, who have/had an incarcerated member in their immediate family (i.e. parent/guardian, sister, brother). Incarcerated family is a growing problem in PG. It impacts our youth directly. I was paired by the summer of 97, with a beautiful highly “at risk” teenage girl. They generally pair women with the girls and men with the boys, matched up based on interest and extracurricular. The program needs you and me. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of male mentors. The boys suffer a long waiting list to receive a mentor. The program tries to provide training for us, one Saturday a month, for a few hours. It’s been fulfilling and rewarding, and I have a teenager and a preteen of my own. If you have a small amount of time that you are willing to give up for a youth, I promise you will make a difference in their life. Please call the contact info above to inquire and check out the website.

  19. I have not as of yet found a metoring program for my son. He is also fatherless and in need of someone he can relate to and be honest with, without having to omit his true character. His father passed away when they was young along with my father just recently passing away. He just turned 16 and face self esteem challenges, grades are becoming poor, desires to be a part of the popular and to be popular amongst his peers, and most of all he pretendes to be something he isnt just for others to find interest in being friends with him. He has always been active in the church and sports but lately alot of things have changed. I need help and cant find it. I dont want to loose my son to the streets. I moved thinking that it would brighten his horizons but it seems to me the enemy strikes regardless of the environment

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