AN OFFER OF HOPE AND CHANGE – One Day of Prevention is worth a Lifetime of Cure By D. Rena’ Chaney

The up-rise in crime statistics shows an increase in the areas of gun violence, vandalism, gang affiliation, child trafficking and sexual assault. As more and more children are being diagnosed with anger issues, there is an even greater concern as the nation is now acknowledging mental health issues beginning as young as pre-school. The question is often asked, “How can I make a difference?” Many will stand to offer a solution, address the question with some form of action or take the leadership role and query everything together to make things happen. One of the challenges some youth face, primarily black youth is a lack of male leadership and role models.

Carl Holloway and young men_1Mr. Carl A. Holloway, a native of Peoria, has already established his leadership capabilities with his hard work, diligence, and determination by hosting the Central Illinois Male Leadership Summit in April of this year. Carl, along with other community leaders and guest speakers offered their knowledge and experiences through open dialog in hopes of creating a mind-shifting approach in how young men address life, how to cope with various issues, and guidance on how to do it. After the Summit was over Carl’s desire was to continue one of the components of the Summit by spearheading a mentorship program.

Although these key components may sound typical, the person(s) who delivers these components may make all the difference! Our youth need structure, guidance, and opportunity but consistency is the additional aspect required for a better chance. There may be unfortunate times we all fall short of reaching a goal, but it’s about not giving up. These components are vital in becoming a productive young individual growing into adulthood.

Too many times in Carl’s life he consciously chose to make poor decisions and allow negative influences to lead him down a path of self-destruction. “I separated myself from God, and when I realized where I was and what I was doing, I began the journey to make a change,” he stated.

Carl has paid his debt to society and stated this trend has to stop. A vital part of the problem is the family unit is broken, and not enough fathers and/or positive male role models are getting involved or even attempting. “The lifestyle I was living had an expiration date, and too many young men are craving this same lifestyle which ultimately will end in their incarceration or death and still cause pain because they’re locked up away or dead in the ground,” he said.

Some youth today have no remorse for their actions and don’t care about the consequences. This type of behavior of disrespect to their peers and adults is becoming too common. Carl is on a mission to make a difference. Whether or not they are already on the path or at the point of deciding to take the path of causing mischief, Carl is determined to catch them either way. “What makes me qualified to mentor these young men? I’ve been there and done that!”

Today, Carl is in a good place and no longer does things which would inhibit him from growing. He admits he still has work to do but the changes are positive, and he feels good about his community involvement. As people recognize the changes he’s made in his own life, it motivates and drives him to continue in his journey. He emphasized the important areas in his journey which are, building his family, his block and his community and ultimately, building a better city. Most importantly, building a better him!

A challenge he faces in conducting the Male-Mentor-Monday Program is getting families to commit to attending. He recommends parents do their best in bringing their son to this program. There will be guest speakers, activities and guaranteed support to assist parents with the tools to improve and better their child’s future. Even with the programs currently offered and in place are wasted resources if people in the communities don’t take advantage of them. “There is no excuse or no room to complain if you know better, do better,” Carl stated.

The Male-Mentor-Monday Program will be held at the Lincoln Branch Library, located at 312 W. Lincoln Avenue every Monday at 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Parents/guardians are encouraged to bring your son(s) and be a part of the program. This program is designed for youth/young men ages 8-17 and will focus on four key components: Appearance, Behavior, Communication, and Discipline.

For more information on the Male-Mentor-Monday Program, please contact Carl A. Holloway at 309-472-3958 or email: carlholloway979@gmail.com