Many people in the mentoring realm in Charlotte are familiar with Reggie Singleton and The Males Place. In 1993, Singleton and his board of directors embarked on a community youth outreach project that has changed thousands of young men's in Charlotte.
The Males Place has evolved over the last several years to become a vibrant multicultural community that has mentored more than 3,000 youth, making their program one of the largest mentoring organizations in North Carolina.
Singleton says that while mentoring is not a replacement for effective parenting, it supplements and supports the work of families, communities and larger society.
“Effective mentors may fill the gap when those socializing forces are inadequate,” said Baba Reggie Singleton, founder and director of The Males Place. “Effective mentoring delays early sexual involvement and unintended pregnancy, reduces crime, violence and gives those that are marginalized and victimized by the inequalities of society a chance at a productive life.”
Being raised by a single mother with a supportive group of family and friends, Singleton saw early on the impact and benefits of a mentor. He saw positive images and had healthy consistent relationships with teachers, coaches and hardworking family men.
“Much of who I am and have become can be attributed to mentorship,” Singleton said. “I want to ensure opportunities are available for all males regardless of their zip codes.”
A mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t have to be complex. For Singleton, a mentor is someone who truly values and has a sincere respect for the mentee, his personhood, family, race and culture.
“Effective mentors are dependable, resourceful, optimistic, consistent and genuinely seek to development the youth.
Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects for youth. When you volunteer to become a mentor, you are not only positively impacting someone's life, you are ultimately helping to strengthen our local community and workforce.
The Males Place also sponsors farmers markets and other food system initiatives to address food insecurity and chronic diseases in many long-suffering communities.
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.
“We are a hands on, front-line organization that provides prescriptive solutions to the needs and interest of our youth, community and people,” Singleton said. “They learn and grow in a positive culture and environment where they are nurtured.”
The overall mission is to provide comprehensive and prevention-based behavior health educational programming, mentoring and life skills training necessary for manhood development for African-American boys ages 12-18, and create a safe environment for young men to grow in community settings in the United States and abroad.
Their regional and international travel program includes trips to Ghana, West Africa, Belgium, Cuba, Washington, D.C., Selma, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee.
“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.
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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