The Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club is getting a Brand new carpet.
But its not what’s going down on the floor as much as who’s willing to be on their hands and knees doing the work.
“I want to learn. learn more things than i already know and not the negative things around me in my community.
That’s the mission of 12 year old John Odom. He is one of three “Ironmen” putting down this rug square by square, learning with every piece of tape they tear off.
“Somebody gave the skills to me,” remembers Kwame Theriot. “At one time I didn’t know a thing. at one time i didn’t know a thing. And somebody was willing to take the time with me to show me what to do. Ive made my share with it and now passing it on to the next generation.”
On this day, Kwame Theriot is the expert and mentor.
He’s got many different skills and like all the Ironmen wants to make sure he offers each one to these young men.
“The next generation is our future,” says Theriot. “If we don’t teach them anything, then they are left to their own devices
“Almost daily i see reports about shootings and violence, robberies,” explains Montre Everett, founder of the Ironmen Mentor Group. “And I know how beautiful Savannah is and how great of a place it can be.”
That idea is why Montre Everett started “Ironmen”. For Savannah, and for its teens.
“It stems from a bible verse,” says Everett. “As iron sharpens iron so should one man sharpen another.”
“Young men like this, 1 in 3 of them will have a stay in prison or even be repeat criminals,” explains Everett. “We want to dispel that and see that 0% of our young men are locked up or behind bars. Show them there is potential in them show them they have skills they haven’t even tapped into yet.”
“I want to do my part. Someone instilled those values to take care of my community in me, so I want to be able to instill thoSe same values in these young men as well.
“My friends smoking, drinking, shooting getting in gangs, trying to pull in other people with it,” sayd John Odom. “Instead of they want to be followed, they want to follow the one man that starts it instead of doing their own thing. So instead of going with them im going my own way.”
That’s the reasoning for John Odom to join the program. He’s determined not to make the same mistakes as his friends. And he wants to make a difference now and in the future.
“How hard is that to go our own way?”
“It is hard because sometimes you’ve got to drop some of your friends to not end up like that,” explains Odom. “Once you look at it and once you see what they have done and you have done, you’ll look back and think wow i did that and im glad i did that. im glad i didnt stay with them. Im glad i didnt go in that store and steal that candy bar and run from the police.”
“Your parents don’t have to worry about every night saying I wonder where is my son, or i hope he’s not in no trouble. They got to stay up late, hurting them inside when they can get a good night rest saying my son is laying down, my son is in the house. he’s with somebody i can trust.”
The Ironmen mentors works at least 2 hours a week with the young men, ages 12-17.
They meet Thursdays at the West Broad Street YMCA to talk and plan their next event.
These men want to teach the teens life skills like auto repair, computer coding, and carpentry. The program plans to have them start building bird and dog houses to sell, and build up scholarship money for each participant.
Any young man 12-17 is welcome to join, as are any men in the community who want to become a mentor.
Just find them on facebook, or go to: www.ironmeninc.com
There are chapters starting not just in Savannah but across the nation.