My journey started on the streets of Syracuse. Growing up as a young, black male with no father figure at home, I started to see my life differently as I grew older. Unfortunately, my life was not what I envisioned. I was unfocused and didn’t see a clear path to the future.

Thanks to my mother, she knew I needed a push. So she contacted a local mentoring organization for assistance. 100 Black Men of Syracuse is an organization of black men who look like me and understand the struggle and challenges I would face as a young black male. They welcomed me with open arms and accepted me into their mentoring program. I began to feel empowered and respected by the organization’s members. Most of all, I felt a part of a family, a brotherhood that would be there when I needed help, whether at school or work, or even in my social life.

I faced many challenges at school. I didn’t complete my first year in college and had to deal with family problems. I felt displaced. In my quest of finding purpose, I returned to Syracuse and found myself working numerous jobs. Eventually, I learned a trade, working as a welder and attending school until I received my welder’s certification.

I had stayed in contact with the 100 Black Men. Walter Eiland, a mentor and the organization’s co-founder, shared my challenges as well as my disappointments. He was instrumental in obtaining for me a job interview with a company called VIP Structures. Even though I didn’t know if I would even qualify for a position at the company, I trusted the wisdom of Mr. Eiland and decided to go for it. Now, I’m happy to share with you that I’m working for one of the best companies in Syracuse.

I want to thank the 100 Black Men of Syracuse and Mr. Eiland for being there for me. I’m excited for what the future holds and looking forward to sharing my life experiences one day to other young black males, just as the 100 Black Men of Syracuse did for me. Thank you for being there for me.