Distinguished Gentleman Award was seven years in making for Charlotte teen

Distinguished Gentleman Award was seven years in making for Charlotte teen

For the past seven years, Jayden Davis has been guided, counseled, tutored and trained to become the best he can be. This weekend, he was honored with the Distinguished Gentlemen Award.

When meeting Davis, you encounter a gentleman, athlete and community champion. However, like a lot of young men, it has been a journey to get where he is today.

Davis is a mentee with the Boys to Men Foundation in Charlotte.

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“Boys to Men helps kids that have been through all part of life. I was really angry when I was younger,” Davis said. “I was able to learn how to put my anger into something more resourceful.”

For more than a decade, the mentoring program Boys to Men has served the Mecklenburg County area by developing and delivering mentoring resources to boys and young men.

The Boys to Men Foundation has aided more than 1,200 young men, with hundreds of volunteer mentors lending a helping hand.

When he was 5 years old, Davis’ parents divorced. As you might expect, he struggled when he felt his entire world turned upside down.

The most stressful time can be during the first year or two after a divorce. Kids may experience distress, anger, anxiety and depression, and some kids may even feel guilty, blaming themselves for the problems at home. Some kids bounce back, but Davis battled to get back to normal.

The Boys to Men Foundation taught Davis he couldn’t be mad forever.

“I had to look past it and take the good out of this situation and learn from when I was doing wrong,” he said. “Learn from what you are doing wrong and take the things that you did learn and turn it into something good.”

One of the strongest influences in Davis’ life is Timothy Fowler, the executive director of Boys to Men.

“He’s always told me that I’d be a good person," Davis said. “You just got to stay focused and not let small things get in the way of being successful.”

Fowler said the program started with two kids and continues to grow. The organization mentors at seven different locations and serves over 100 young men and boys ages 9 to 17.

They receive mentoring and tutoring, as well as home and school visits by qualified mentors. To participate in the program, parents and students must participate in community service activities and parents must attend monthly parent workshops provided by the foundation.

Some 95% of the Boys to Men scholars are raised by women. Fowler says some of the scholars have anger, resentment and abandonment issues, but sees every day the change the program makes and how the young men overcome a variety of challenges to achieve their goals.

Fowler says that while the concept of mentoring is simple, successful implementation can be challenging.

Timothy Fowler, executive director of Boys to Men.
Timothy Fowler, executive director of Boys to Men.

“Effective mentoring includes the ability and willingness to develop mutual trust and respect, help the mentee solve his or her own problem, rather than give direction and value the mentee as a person,” he said.

Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects for youth. Volunteer mentors not only positively impact someone's life, they are ultimately helping to strengthen their local community and workforce.

“I want to prepare the young men I work with for the future,” Fowler said.

Davis said that Boys to Men helps him see that he is loved.

“Boys to Men is probably one of the greatest outlets that I’ve every had in my life and somewhere I can go and talk to people that care,” Davis said.

The organization is looking for additional mentors to help guide the children in the right direction and move them forward while instilling knowledge and positivity.

“We want everybody to know that where I’m from is not who I am,” Fowler said.

When Davis received his award, he was surrounded by hundreds of supporters and given a rousing applause. He’ll be graduating high school in the spring and will begin his freshman year of college at North Carolina Central University majoring in sports management.

“He is a king,” Fowler said. “I could see him being president.”

Mentoring gives youth someone who is going to be there for them and someone they can count on when everything else may be falling apart around them.

A valuable resource in Charlotte for the mentoring community is the Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance. The alliance educates mentoring organizations about best practices and mentoring standards, ignites impactful and enduring mentor-mentee relationships and connects Charlotte’s mentoring community.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.