by Jim Gehman
“We started talking about how we benefitted from some of the things that happened in the past; civil rights movements, affirmative actions, and different things like that,” McGee said. “We’re kind of the product of that, him being a doctor and myself being a business owner [HNM Global Logistics] and a former professional athlete. We’re not the type to really go out and march. That wasn’t our thing, but how could we give back, do something positive for the community?
“We said that there’s a specific group, primarily being young, at-risk males. We felt like that if these guys had the opportunity to interact and learn and see something different, then they might want to follow in those footsteps.
“We felt like it was something that would make us feel good to have the opportunity to work with young men. We would get something out of it, but more importantly, the young men would get something out of it. We could share our stories, take them on different trips and give them some different educational things in terms of interviewing skills or financial literacy or leadership. We wanted to see what we could do to make a difference.”
McGee and Alabi founded Brothers Reaching Out or BRO. Its mission is to empower the young men, 10-18, to succeed by providing them with life skills, positive role models and educational opportunities.
“We’re working with CareerSource to teach some of our older boys,” McGee said. “We want them to go through writing résumés, interviewing skills, job applications and understanding how to find jobs.
“And we had some police officers come in and speak to them about how to interact and engage law enforcement. And really, we did that for two reasons. So there wouldn’t be that fear to build a trust. When you do come in contact with law enforcement, we wanted to give them the tools to make that a positive engagement and not a negative. The kids get a lot out of that and I think the law enforcements get a lot out of it because it builds that relationship. And when you build that relationship, there’s not the fear of the unknown.”
BRO, which partnered with the Institute for Sport and Social Justice and hosted a summer camp, also holds after-school mentoring sessions in middle schools and meets with older kids at a Boys & Girls Club.
“We try to expose them to different things, different people, a number of different professionals, and let them hear everybody’s story because they have a story too,” McGee said. “Sometimes when you can understand that people have a story and their situation was similar to yours, and they were able to turn the corner and take a negative and turn it into a positive, then the kids start to believe they can do that too.”
What does McGee hope the young men will take away from BRO?
“First and foremost, we want them to be there. We want them to learn that responsibility of showing up and being reliable. You’ll never get anywhere in life if you’re not reliable,” he said. “If we can have the kids understand that in life you’re going to spend half your time making choices and the other half living with the consequences of those choices, hopefully they’ll make good choices. If we can do that, then we’ve accomplished our goal.”