After garden theft, young man is resolute to continue to cultivate neighborhood

After garden theft, young man is resolute to continue to cultivate neighborhood
A special community garden was vandalized, but the unique impact the garden has had on local young men of The Males Place won’t stop their pursuit to make Charlotte a better place.
Many people along Beatties Ford Road and throughout Charlotte are familiar with The Males Place.
“We are a hands-on, front-line organization that provides prescriptive solutions to the needs and interest of our youth, community and people,” said Reggie Singleton, executive director and founder of The Males Place. “They learn and grow in a positive culture and environment where they are nurtured.”
The Males Place has evolved over the last several years to become a vibrant multicultural community that has mentored thousands of young men.
Last week, after someone broke into their community garden, it hasn’t stopped the program from continuing to serve the community.
The garden is a place where seeds are nurtured.  The organization helps transform young men into manhood, often by cultivating crops but more often character.
Denzil Xavier, 17, has been a mentee in the program for a little over five years.
People in the community depend on us. Every time we harvest, there are people who come by and ask about us, Xavier said.  
"I've met some of my best friends in The Males Place. It's like a family atmosphere. Especially out here in the garden."
The mentees devote significant time, energy and resources to the planning, planting design and launching of a community garden on Charlotte’s Westside, providing free fresh vegetables to impoverished local neighborhoods where they lack ready access to fresh produce.
However, when members learned someone broke into their shed week twice and stole garden tools supplies and vandalized their garden, a thud of disappointment came over the group.
When one of our elders, who serve as a monitor over the farm, went and noticed that our tillers, weed eaters, blower and some of our tools were missing, Singleton said “They saw tracks where the tillers had been pulled away and there were pumpkins that was splattered all over the place.”
Xavier said he was little shocked at first about the theft.
“Everybody in the surrounding community knows what we do and so we have a respectful relationship with the community,” Xavier said. “I don't know what those people were going through that made them like they needed to do what they did.”
"We're gonna keep on doing our best to help the community and keep growing."
“We provide the young men with the opportunity to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills and apply them in areas of interest over their years with the program,” Singleton said.
The Males Place mentees participate in a wide range of special interest community service programs, attend sports events, performing and visual arts programs.“I am honored that the creator has given me this purpose, conviction, resolve and divine protection and guidance to do this Herculean work,” he said.
The group pulled together a few nights after the theft and discussed how the theft and vandalism would not shake their resolve of their mission.  The program’s mentors shared that The Males Place is in the healing process.  
“It just speaks to this tragedy,” Singleton said.  “It speaks to why this work is important and sometimes out of tragedy you could have tremendous blessings.”
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