“When you put a shirt and tie on a young male, all of a sudden he becomes a young man,” explains Glenn Felton, noting that neck-ties are the trademark of this modern yet classic group aptly called M.A.L.E.S. Club. “(It stands for) Men Achieving Leadership Excellence and Success.”
Twice a month, this former police officer, now the Climate Specialist at Lincoln Middle School, spends after-school hours with the boys he calls his “babies”, providing guidance and mentorship.
“I never grew up with a father. He’s just like my father,” says 12-year-old Trevoy Marrow with sincerity. “6th grade, it was a little rocky. I got in trouble a little. But, this year, I stayed out of the office because he gave me advice.”
During meetings, Marrow and his peers talk about working hard, being humble and offering a firm handshake. They also learn how to talk to girls…and how to master life skills.
“Most guys don’t know how to iron a shirt,” says Felton. “When the (young men) leave this group, they’ll know how to care for themselves.”
“We want to develop character, we want to develop leadership, and we also want to strive for excellence,” explains Ashon Avent, one of the founding members of M.A.L.E.S. Club when it began in 1997. “That opportunity saved my life.”
Recently, he accompanied the Lincoln Middle School students on a field trip to his alma mater – Eastern Connecticut State University.
“When they came to the university, I could tell they felt like they were part of something larger.”
“They were under the impression it’s just As and Bs and mom and dad give a lot of money,” adds Felton. “No, you can get a scholarship to college. They’re seeing that now and I’m excited for them.”
Dressing well commands respect.
“People look at us different. We feel different, people treat us different,” says 13-year-old Stylz Mitchell.
A unique pledge holds them together. The wise mentors have given these young men direction and vision through their time, love and care.
“It helped me a lot and I’ll always remember this, I’ll never forget it,” says Mitchell.
The Lincoln middle schoolers are getting so much out of this that they’re already planning to continue the work by starting a new M.A.L.E.S. Club when they move-up to high school.
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