As programs go, there is just about anything you can think of from athletics to camping, faith-based to science camps. In Charlotte, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has several youth outreach programs.
One in particular changed the trajectory of a young man in Charlotte, and his father said it was life changing.
“My son came through the program. He had experienced some obstacles and challenges," Jerry Redfern said.
His son Jordan, was part of a program called REACH, which stands for respect, engage, accountability, character and honesty. REACH Academy is a six-week summer program that builds positive relationships between participants and police officers.
It also promotes personal and social responsibility through leadership opportunities, educational seminars and field trips, and career and vocational development classes.
“A lot of what kids do is going to be a personal choice,” Redfern said.
For Jordan, being around his peers and being coached by officers in the program helped in his transformation.
“He opened up and was able to communicate a little bit better. Those are things that we couldn’t quite get a hold of and try to figure out,” Redfern said. “With the assistance of the police officers and with the assistance of the reach program, we were kind of able to gain higher ground with our son.”
Jordan was in the program for two years, and two years ago, his father wanted to do something to give back to the program and the participants.
“I’ve always been a giver,” he said. “That is something that I attribute to my mom, who I would see give even when we didn’t have a whole lot to give away.”
Redfern loads up his truck with new shoes, hoodies and sometimes backpacks and gives them to the REACH kids.
“One of the biggest things for me was I didn’t have the name brand clothes or shoes going back to school,” he said.
You could certainly see the joy in the faces of the kids when they got their new stuff. There were plenty of smiles from the 10 students when they opened up their gifts.
“Bullying is real, and I understand that a whole lot of kids and a whole lot of families don’t have the capabilities to be able to provide for their kids to give them the necessities,” Redfern said. “That’s where I bridge the gap.”
His hope is to supply these scholars with the things he didn’t have growing up to help build their confidence as they enter the new school year.
“The biggest thing that I can say is give. Do what you can with what you can,” Redfern said. “I have the means to be able to provide in this way, but someone else may not. It may be about mentoring for them. For me, it is about mentoring and talking to the kids and sharing my life experiences.”
A mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t have to be complex. 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.
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