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Brotherhood expands youth outreach

More than 100 guests supported launch The Brotherhood’s new initiative Delaney Housing. The event was standing room only students walked

More than 100 guests supported the launch of The Brotherhood’s new initiative in Delaney Housing. The event was standing room only and students walked away with school supplies, haircuts and hot meals. | photos by Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen~For SunTimes Media

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For more information on The Brotherhood, call 545-1671 or email JohnathanRobinson83@yahoo.com

Updated: October 4, 2013 6:08AM



Despite socioeconomic and cultural challenges, boys in Dorie Miller and Delaney public housing are gaining life skills by joining a rapidly growing Brotherhood.

Derion Enge, 16, says in spite of neighborhood rivalry, he traveled from one community to the next to welcome former rivals to the group.

The Brotherhood Youth Outreach Program started one year ago in Dorie Miller.

“We talk about how we feel, it gives us someone to look up to, and the Brotherhood believes in us,” Enge said. “I have a step-father who’s better than any dad, but I still need The Brotherhood.”

According to The Brotherhood founder Johnathan Robinson, bi-weekly Monday meetings enable participants to gain various life skills and free haircuts.

“We provide etiquette training, grooming classes, teach biblical principals, graphic design, and chess,” Robinson said. “We’re reaching kids who want to do well regardless of where they live.”

More than 100 guests supported the not-for-profit during the Delaney launch.

Boys and girls received school supplies, meals, and the option of a free male haircut.

House of Natural Hair barbers Robert Dee and Kebiney Woodson, along with Robert Sanders and Ralph Burney of Billco’s volunteered.

“I’m committed to giving free haircuts for the Brotherhood every other Monday,” Sanders said. “I look for avenues to help single mothers and fatherless kids.”

Brotherhood volunteers have one requirement — share compassion toward people who are struggling to survive day-by-day, Robinson explained.

The challenges of living in a poor neighborhood as a youth, and fighting peer pressure in rough surroundings, are reasons why Robinson says he feels compelled to serve as his brother’s keeper.

“I felt my childhood environment changing my identity,” he said.

Now he’s building children’s character and giving them chance to soar.

Volunteer Michael Patterson, 61, fell prey to his surroundings. He admits making a bad choice that caused him to lose eight years of freedom, from 1989 to 1997.

“It was 16 years ago when I was released from Terre Haute federal prison,” he said. “That’s where I learned how to play chess.”

Now, Patterson teaches boys, ages 3 and up, the rules of the game.

“It’s all about making the right moves,” he said. “I use chess as a tool to teach kids decision making skills.”

Patterson also shares prison stories with youth to ensure that they understand the grueling consequences of living life locked behind bars.

The Brotherhood has a strategy to target at-risk males. With 12 faithful men, and 13 women serving as support behind the scenes, Robinson says the organization is always seeking more volunteers, especially men.

Patricia Brown has worked as a property manager for Gary Housing Authority for nearly 20 years.

“I’ve seen what Mr. Robinson is doing and his vision is 100 percent plausible,” she said. “He came from the streets, got involved in the church, and he knows the need of the community.”

The Brotherhood is nourishing at-risk youth, and the all-boys initiative recently extended its reach from the east to west side of Gary.



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