Group helps young men learn to achieve their goals in life | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 27, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 24, 2016 at 2:19 pm

The Institute of HOPE for Excellency, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization whose goal is “helping others pursue excellence, is led by Dr. Queenie Crawford, president. Presently, the organization sponsors a mentoring group of 92 young men  called The Young Men Of Hope (YMOH) at Colleton County Middle, Bells Elementary, Northside Elementary, Hendersonville Elementary and Colleton County High schools where the young men transition into the Men of Distinction Program.  In January, the Institute of HOPE expanded its mentoring program to the Allendale-Fairfax School District and started a Young Men of HOPE Program at Allendale Elementary School where Renata Green serves as principal.
Historically, the Young Men of HOPE was called Leadership Focus. The first session of the Leadership Focus Mentoring Program began at Forest Circle Middle School, Sept. 10, 2010 and later extended to Colleton Middle School and Ruffin Middle School. The program focused on seventh grade students only.
The goals of the Leadership Focus/Young Men of HOPE Mentoring Program are:
 to encourage good attendance
 to encourage and acknowledge academic progress
 to inspire positive behavior by developing skills in decision making, conflict resolution, and citizenship
 to promote a smooth transition from elementary school to middle school
 to build career awareness with a focus on the value of learning and earning
 to follow the young men from elementary school through high school graduation.
To achieve these goals Dr. Crawford invited community leaders who could serve as successful role models to share their knowledge and experiences in an effort to encourage YMOH to develop skills for productive employment.
When the middle schools of Colleton County combined, Leadership Focus was renamed YOUNG MEN OF HOPE.  Dr. Crawford wanted to engage all grade levels, 6-8, with a specific curriculum.  She developed a curriculum plan called “Making the Connection” which is designed to help young men tap into the purpose and end result of their daily school attendance. Several community leaders volunteered, but Dr. Crawford was not able to meet with the YMOH as often as she desired to achieve her goals.
Eager to have biweekly meetings with the young men, Dr. Crawford solicited the assistance of Elder Phillip M. Taylor Sr., a member of Colleton County Council, and later Cornelius Hamilton, agent for the South Carolina State University Extension Program.  With their help and other supporting community members, the program expanded.
With a concentration on meeting our established goals, several field trips have been taken through the generous donations and support of various organizations and businesses such as Dr. Harold Rhodes and Colleton Dental Associates, Andy Strickland and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, St. John A.M.E. Church of Cottageville, the Sons of Allen of St. John A.M.E. Church, Margie Bellinger, Paul Alexy, Art Williams, Joe Hamilton, Ed Williams, Anthony Aiken, the board of directors of the Institute of HOPE, Colleton County School District  Office leadership and principals,  Allendale–Fairfax board of trustees,  Allendale-Fairfax  district leadership, Renata Green,  Marvin Love, the South Carolina State University Extension Program, Parents of the Young Men of HOPE, and USC Salkehatchie Dean Jane Brewer, Coach Cory Hendren, Asst. Coach Brian Johnson, and members of the SALK basketball team.
In the effort to provide insight concerning college opportunities and expectations, The Institute of HOPE reached out to USC Salk Dean Jane Brewer and the Athletic Department of USC Salkehatchie to provide an opportunity for the Young Men of HOPE from all schools to attend a basketball game. The purpose of the request was to allow the YMOH to have conversations with the Salk players about college life, and enjoy the sport that many of the YMOH hope to excel in as a future career.  Therefore, in preparation for the experience, Salk basketball player Rashee Hodges spoke to the YMOH at Colleton County Middle School (CCMS) in January about college life and what they should be doing now to prepare to excel in their careers of interest.  In February, Salk’s Assistant Coach Brian Johnson spoke to the YMOH at CCMS about various jobs in the athletic arena.  He presented “eye-opening” statistics showing the competitiveness of becoming a college basketball player.
As a culmination to the organization’s request on Friday, Feb. 19, 35 members of the Young Men of HOPE from Colleton and Allendale attended the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie basketball game at no cost.  Dean Brewer and Coach Hendren provided an opportunity for the young men to visit with the basketball players during pre-game activities, and to take pictures with the team. The evening was more than the young men had expected. The game was exciting, and the YMOH knew that they were going to be that next basketball star!
The YMOH are presently preparing for its annual “Bullying Program” that they will present at one of the elementary schools in Colleton County during the month of March.  The End of the Year Culmination Program for the Young Men of HOPE will take place in May 2016 when the YMOH will celebrate the eighth graders who will be entering Colleton County High school during the fall of 2016.


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