100 Black Men of Tallahassee help students succeed



Special to the Outlook

“Success or Failure?  Which road will you take?,” was the prominent theme at the two and one-half day, two night Summer Success Academy Experience sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Tallahassee Area, Inc. (100 BMOTA) Aug. 9-11.  The purpose of the Academy was to prepare young men for success during the coming school year and beyond. The young men arrived at the Tookes Center at 5:30  a.m. on Tuesday, checked in, donned their 100 BMOTA t-shirts, and boarded a bus. The journey for these 37 young men began with an all day trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola accompanied by 100 BMOTA members Alvin Bell, Randy Cross, Ronald Joe, Wilbur Johnson, Ray Mobley, and Tallahassee Housing Authority representatives Sylvester Taylor and Isaac Sutton.  In addition to the displays, the IMAX theatre and the guided tour they received at the museum,  the young men learned that the museum is the home of the National Flight Academy which teaches 7th through 12th graders about the importance of science and math in aerospace careers.  The Naval Air Station is also the home of the Blue Angels.

Upon returning from the museum, the young men were met at the Tookes Recreation Center on the campus of Florida A&M University by other members of 100 BMOTA, who showed them to their living quarters, and bunk area.  After dinner, a mentee orientation was held that included rules and expectations for the Academy.  Member Walt McNeil welcomed the young men to the Academy; members Earl Levison and Eric Friall, co-chairs for the Academy talked with them about the logistics and the schedule. Chapter President, Ronald M. Joe, Sr. let the young men know what was expected from them and what they could expect from the presenters. Joe and Vice-president for Mentoring, Ray Mobley led the mentees in a group read of the book, “Surviving Police Stops,” written by police sergeant Melvin Carter.  Because the event was planned to not only stimulate and prepare their minds for success, but also their bodies, each day had a built-in PT (physical training) program each morning at 7:30 led by Coach O’Neil Brown. Each evening had at least 4 hours of free time to participate in basketball, flag football, table tennis, rock wall climbing, chess, checkers and other board games.

Day two of the Academy opened with words of inspiration and encouragement from, Rev. Al Williams, Sr. of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church followed by greetings and guidance from Dr. Marvin Henderson, Deputy Superintendent for Leon County Schools who is also a member of 100 BMOTA.  Other speakers for the day were:  Dr. Chuck Wayes – Mental Health and Anger Management; Quincy Police Chief Glenn H. Sapp, Sr., – Gangs, Violence, Gun Safety; 100 BMOTA member Tommy Mitchell – Careers, Life Skills; FAMU Chief of Police Terence M. Calloway – “How To Get Home Alive;” Retired Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Reaves – Communications and Listening Skills; and Marlon Williams, professional barber at Fades Barbershop who talked with the young men about hygiene and hair care for today’s hair trends.  Members from the Challenger Learning staff conducted two hours of STEM experiments with the young men, including how to use magnets to build a speaker.  During the STEM experiments, the young men received a surprise visit from Mrs. Helen Middlebrooks, one of the sponsors and contributors to the 100 BMOTA activities and events.  Collegiate 100 member Hakeem Holmes spoke with the young men about college experiences.

Sealey Elementary principal Demetria Clemons and Griffin Middle School principal Gwendolyn Lynn Thomas spoke to the young men on Thursday morning about preparing for and having a great school year.  Each principal presented the young men with a “Welcome To School Year 2016-17” gift to go along with their words of wisdom and advice.  A closing ceremony with certificates of participation and a promise to “practice the highest virtues of honesty, integrity, self-discipline, personal values, respect, and good citizenship and to apply his best efforts in school and the community,” ended the 2016 Summer Success Academy. Each young man was also encouraged to participate during the school year in the 100 BMOTA Saturday Success Academy. A pre and post event survey was completed by the young men that will be used as a guide for the 100 BMOTA as they continually seek to improve the Summer Success Academy experience.

Meals for the Academy were provided by Bethel AME Church, Wendy’s, Heavenly Catering and the 100 BMOTA.  Mr. Robert Carroll, director of the Tookes Center and his staff worked with 100 BMOTA to ensure that the Academy was a success. The following 100 BMOTA members participated in this two and one-half day, two night experience or provided assistance before and/or during the event to insure its success: Alvin Bell, Brandon Bowden, Sherwood Brown,  Selvin Cobb, Juan Collins, Randy Cross, Eric Friall, Kevin Gray, Marvin Henderson, Terence Hinson, Robert Jackson, Ronald M. Joe, Sr., Wilbur Johnson, Howard Knight, Rev. Ernest J. Lane, Earl Levison, Walt McNeil, Tommy Mitchell,  Ray Mobley, Torrece Porter, Errol Powell, Wayne Pye,  Eric Shannon,  Jaworski Vance, Rev. Al Williams, and Vaughn Wilson.  Special thanks to volunteers: Sylvester Taylor, Isaac Sutton, Lenita J. Joe and to bus drivers, Cornell Flythe, Lance Paul and Jefferson Walker.

100 BMOTA is grateful to its sponsors Florida Blue, Capitaleurocars, Comcast, Cornucopia Wealth Management, Culley’s MeadowWood Funeral Home, FAMU, First Commerce Credit Union, Juan Collins Mediation Services, Trophy King USA, Walk With Jordan Foundation, Pittman Law Group, Wells Fargo, Wendy’s, Lawton Williams, Selvin Cobb, Mary Brown Ellis, Helen Middlebrooks, Ruth Mitchell Estate, Hinson Realty and Dunbar Walker Productions.  “What They See Is What They’ll Be.”