By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew

On a daily basis there are thousands of young men of color entering into the prison pipeline. In some cities across our country it

Terrence Alston

has even become an epidemic. Young men of color are being incarcerated in alarming numbers with some studies showing more young men of color being incarcerated every year than graduate from high school.

The million dollar question is: What can be done about this ever-growing epidemic?  There is no quick and easy solution. We are dealing with a complex issue that will require an all hands on deck solution if we truly want to make any type of positive and lasting impact.

Over the years there have been programs instituted to assist young men who appear to be heading down the wrong path. Training programs such as pro-social skills and violence prevention have been instituted in schools and community-based programs. However, it can’t stop there. Additional methods are needed to help rescue the growing number of boys and young men of color entering the prison system.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

A great place to look for these solutions is to research ideas that have proven to work and change lives. One of those solutions is mentoring. There are many studies which show young people who have mentors are more successful throughout their lifetime.

Although 1:1 mentoring is most commonly known, there are other forms of mentoring that can also be used. For example, group mentoring can be used to provide a safe environment for participants to discuss issues with their peers and their adult mentors.

There is one group in Chesapeake, Va., that utilizes this approach to help boys and young men turn away from the path to prison towards paths of purpose.

Boys to Men is a Christian-based ministry at Union Bethel Baptist Church. The ministry reaches out to boys and young men, encircling them literally and figuratively by older men in the church. The organizers also encourage fathers to participate in this circle of mentors. According to Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, there is a “…need for black boys to be surrounded by older, black role models.” Boys to Men has done just that by providing a circle of role models to mentor not only boys of color but any boy or young man in need of a positive role model.

The mission of Boys to Men is simple says Terrence Alston, one of the group’s leaders: “our mission is to mentor and mold young boys and young men…to encourage unity; teach respect for oneself and others, and most of all…to teach young boys and young men to be strong upstanding men in the eyes of God and in their communities”.

Alston is a proponent of mentoring and a supporter of reaching out to young men who are at risk and are on the threshold of the prison pipeline.

The ministry was started in early 2000 by the late Pastor Calvin White. Pastor White tasked the church deacons to become involved up close and personal in the lives of boys in the community. According to Alston, “he wanted us to be their role models instead of rappers and athletes; he tasked us to teach them how to be men.”

As a collective group, the boys and men discuss topics such as anger management, peer pressure, the dangers of drugs, bullying, success in the classroom, their future, dressing for success, and how to explore their feelings. Part of the group’s focus is also based on biblical principles, which is highlighted in their pledge which the boys recite at the beginning of each group. Part of the pledge reads, “I will live my life based on God’s word…Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11 (NKJV).

The outcomes are proving that the group’s approach is working. This year, several participants graduated from high school and college and one entered the military. This helps to show that what we see and hear on TV is not true about all boys and men of color. They can succeed and are succeeding towards paths of purpose.

For more information about this ministry, contact Union Bethel Baptist Church at 757-488-3117 or email Terrence Alston atTera Alston mccann1983.ta@gmail.com.

Tera Alston is a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families.  She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.

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By Gary C. Smith
Special to Inside The Pew

Gary C. Smith is the president and CEO of the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR). The nationalCongressman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), NAEIR president and CEO Gary C. Smith, and former Congressman Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) take part in discussion at NAEIR headquarters. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a gifts-in-kind type organization that solicits donations of excess inventory from American companies and redistributes a wide range of materials to its membership base of approximately 12,000 nonprofits, schools and church organizations throughout the country. Smith, who has served as president and CEO since 1993, is the son of NAEIR’s founder Norbert C. Smith.

Why did you create your business?

“Over the years and during the course of business dealings with a wide range of companies, many of them major corporations, Norbert C. Smith, a business executive and entrepreneur, observed that there were millions of dollars of unsold products, in perfectly good condition, simply collecting dust in warehouses or being sent to landfills.

“He founded NAEIR in 1977 as a means of capturing this material and making it available initially to schools across the country. NAEIR was the first organization of its kind; serving as a middleman between American corporations and nonprofits, schools and churches throughout the U.S.  It is the leading gifts-in-kind organization in the country and has received over $3 billion dollars in donations of inventory since its founding.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“‘Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.’ – Psalm 31:5 (NKJV).”Gary C. Smith

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Never give up! Keep listening to others (customers, employees, and friends). The answer will be revealed. Listen more than you speak.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“I’m a recovering alcoholic. No slips for 28 years (February 1985)…with the help of the Lord and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).”

Visit their website at www.naeir.org and NAEIR’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NAEIR. The organization’s toll free number is (800)-562-0955.

By Ahmad Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

My first experience with tithing was when I was homeless sleeping out of the back of my 1991 Ford Explorer. I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio and his show gave me hopeTithe and inspired me to get out of debt and start to tell my money what to do.

As I gained composure and wrote my first budget on a yellow pad and starting to see some traction in my finances, he was also inspiring me to tithe because of some of the testimonies and experiences I was hearing on his show. So I begrudgingly wrote my first tithe check to a church that I had only visited once, but they were kind to me.

I soon recognized that my own inner struggles with writing the tithe check was not isolated, many people have a tough time giving 10% to God for various reasons. But, one reason was reconciled with me a while back and I wanted to share it with you.

Tithing was pre-law. The very first tithe was performed by Abram to Melchizedek. According to Genesis 14:18-20 (NKJV), the author wrote, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemiesAhmad Davis into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all.”

This scripture shows that Abram gave a tithe to honor God who has already blessed him. There was no commandment given by God prior to this event to give ten percent of your earnings, it was done because it was the right thing to do.

As a rule of thumb, the first actions in the Bible set the precedent.

You might have a few reasons why you do not tithe, but read over the entire Genesis 14 chapter and pray over what God’s word is saying here. Prayerfully, you will feel a sense of peace about this piece of the great debate.

Ahmad Davis is a coach with Victory By Design, a firm based in Beaumont, Texas, serving clients locally, nationally and internationally. Ahmad provides solutions for individuals, couples, and businesses who are overwhelmed and stressed financially. Ahmad’s typical clients’ are pastors, single parents, lawyers, couples, doctors, business executives, newlyweds, business owners, and others who want a simple solution with remarkable measurable results. For more information, visit http://www.thebiblicalblueprint.com. To get your questions answered on the Inside The Pew Forum, email Ahmad at coach@thebiblicalblueprint.com.