“You never know what someone is going through. A lot of people come to Family Matters and we don’t know what problems they have on the streets and at home. We just support each other like family.”
– Jevonne, 15, (second from left); Member of Family Matters’ Boys to Men program
Longtime members of Boys to Men, Jevonne and Kevin came to Family Matters one day at the invitation of a friend…and they have been coming back ever since. Here they find a safe space to enjoy the company of their “brothers,” a place to be themselves.
As Kevin expressed, “No matter what the situation is, Family Matters is here.” An avid gamer, Kevin can be found in “The Roots” honing his passions and talents—learning how to code, leading a gaming tournament for his peers, and working as a Boys to Men intern. Jevonne is also finding ways to flourish: participating in this summer’s Project RISE program and demonstrating diligence on the football field. His voice was integral in the Boys to Men documentary, Silence the Violence.
Despite a world that often discriminates, devalues, and distorts the identities of young African-American males, members of Boys to Men are defining themselves with inspiring resilience. Program Director Chris Spence remarked on how arduous this task is when “schools can systematically feel like prison, and the data shows projections that there will be more Black men in prison than in college in 2020.”
Still, Jevonne’s mantra is: “Stay positive.” And Kevin’s is: “Stay motivated.” Their example and optimism mean more to the Family Matters community than they may realize. As Chris confided, “I receive more from the young men than I give. Their energy, their potential, their leadership, and their care for one another are all gifts that I have the opportunity to experience.”
These young men are guardians of peace, hope, and justice in our neighborhood and in our city. When posed the question of how to resolve the conflicts of race and oppression that the world faces today, Jevonne reflected, “Family is everything. So, if we really connect and talk to each other, we can overcome anything.”
As we work together to build an equitable society in our day-to-day lives, may we all be reminded of the words of these young men: “You never know what someone is going through.” “Family is everything.” “We can overcome.”
Together we can create a world where all youth and families are supported in accessing opportunities and overcoming obstacles.