United Community Corp. matches community youth with mentors at steak and burger event – Essex News Daily


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NEWARK, NJ – The Weequahic Park Community Center was filled with young men, adults and plenty of burgers and steaks on Thursday night, June 30.

United Community Corp.’s Community Violence Interruption Program. hosted a steak and burger event as part of its efforts to help young people find positive outlets. This specific event paired 20 young men with 20 adult mentors for the evening. The young men were given a steak to eat while the mentor ate a burger.

“We realized that a lot of young men here in Newark lacked positive male role models,” said Community Violence Response Program Director Charles Mainor. “We created this event where the steak was given to the young man and the burger to the adult to let them know that we appreciate, respect and support them on their journey to manhood. We wanted to get rid of negative stereotypes they could have on men by showing them positive men.

The youngsters were aged between 10 and 21 and selected with the help of the Weequahic Park Sports Authority Youth Advocacy Program and UCC staff members. The mentors came from UCC and the Weequahic Park Sports Authority.

As each young person entered the facility, Mainor encouraged them to mingle with mentors and choose the one they connected best with. He would be their mentor for the evening.

“A lot of times in our lives we tell kids what to do and don’t let them decide for themselves,” he said. “It allowed them to be in charge and have a say. It worked well.

The evening included games, team building activities and dinner provided by Top2Not2 Catering. Attendees were able to bond with their mentors throughout the event, talking about everything from school to their personal lives to where they see themselves in 10 years.

UCC Board Chairman John Jewell and Board Member Everett Johnson attended the event. The two spoke with a young man who wanted to pursue a career in law and finance. Johnson works in the public finance team at law firm Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, and provided the young man with his number and other contact information so they could keep in touch.

“Sometimes these young men don’t have anyone to go to to understand what they’re going through,” Jewell said. “When you have a resource you can go to, it works really well for you.”

The event was the second event of UCC’s Community Violence Interruption Program in five days. On Saturday, June 25, the department partnered with the Weequahic Park Sports Authority to host a three-on-three basketball tournament to introduce this program to the community. The tournament was attended by 32 local youngsters.

“A lot of times these kids living in inner city neighborhoods don’t see positive role models like this or don’t have positive outlets,” Jewell said. “Often the kids would see the drug dealer on the corner with a nice car and some money. Events like this show them the other side of things. They don’t have to go that negative route. , they can find a positive outlet and a positive role model who grew up like them.

Photos courtesy of Ashley Grey/United Community Corporation

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