A new program in the community called Youth Empowered to Succeed (YES) is helping teens get the knowledge they need for life.
YES is a mentoring program designed for adolescents that partners youth with community leaders who serve as role models, confidants and a support structure. YES engages them in recreational activities, educational programs and social fun, such as working in a community garden, visiting colleges or job shadowing.
Youth involved with YES and their parents crowded into the Calvin Little Room of the Leath Memorial Library on Franklin Street in Rockingham on Tuesday for a meet and greet and to hear speakers.
The first speaker was Tenasha Goins, who works with YES.
“We all want our children to succeed,” said Goins as she opened the event. She asked for a show of hands of those who are in college, and encouraged them to give themselves a round of applause.
Goins shared her story briefly with those in attendance.
“I graduated high school pregnant,” said Goins. “My mother left high school pregnant. Now my daughter is finishing up school. I broke the cycle.”
Goins urged parents to share their stories with their children, because “it makes them stronger.”
The youth then heard from Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.
“Although I am not from here, I feel like a product of this community,” said Clemmons. “I have benefited from this community.”
Clemmons said he holds two masters degrees, but was raised by a single parent in Philadelphia, “in what is known as ‘the hood.’”
“There are no barriers out there. Drugs and crime break us down. If we (law enforcement) come to your neighborhood and you are seen talking to us, you are labeled a ‘snitch,’ and we are called the ‘popo.’ Stereotypes happen every day. I’m trying to bring respect back to the badge,” said Clemmons.
Clemmons said he was relieved to see so many young men in a room together without any trouble. He addressed them on fathering children out of wedlock.
“Anybody can be a daddy but it takes hard work to be a father,” he said. “Men, protect your women. Treat them like they are the mothers of the earth.”
Clemmons went on to say that changes can be made in the community, and folks who feel disadvantaged can take control of their own lives.
“There is nothing so tough that we can’t change,” he said. “We can no longer blame others for our short comings. Excuses are tools of incompetence that build nothing.”
YES is part of the Partners in Ministry.
Partners in Ministry is dedicated to alleviating the many issues that affect the poor and oppressed in the community, according to their mission statement. Partners in Ministry has an intentional plan which has initiated a partnership among local church congregations and the community to work cooperatively to transform lives and respond to the needs of the lost, powerless, lonely and the marginalized families in Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties. Partners in Ministry is based in Laurinburg.
These resources are networked and made available through the Resource and Referral Center, a one stop center where members of the community can get information about local resources. This centers serves as a referral tool that connects members of the community with those who can meet their needs. Services offered include Benefit Bank, Computer Lab, Food Pantry, Clothes Closet, counseling, mentoring, tutoring, GED classes and more.
For more information, call 910-227-3355 or visit www.rdpim.org.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.