Dinner at Ujima House teaches young men life lessons

A dinner has brought generations together for a common goal: To inspire young men who've faced challenges.

On a cool February night, a home-cooked meal was prepared for special guests at the Ujima House in Milwaukee. The home is for young men who've been removed from their homes for a variety of reasons.

"I had gotten into it with my cousin and my mom said she was tired of the disrespect," said 14-year-old Jaquan Clancy. 

But on that night Clancy sat at the dinner table with residents, staff, and invited guests. They included his High school principal, MPD'S assistant police chief, and the presiding judge over Milwaukee County Children's Court. 

"As one of the judges who makes the orders who actually places kids in these types of environments its good for me to come and be part of it because I learn something too," said Judge Joe Donald.

Ray Banks, Interim Acting Assistant Police Chief agrees.

"It's extremely important that the young people actually get an opportunity to live like this, and get mentorship and see there's a future for them and that there's hope," Banks said. 

Clancy says living at Ujima House has helped teach him real life lessons. 

"Always stay positive...don't think about illegal stuff," he said.

Young men staying at Ujima House find adults who care. Adults like Anthony Whorton,  Unit Supervisor at Ujima House.

"It's the kids that return, the kids that are out in the community and their eyes light up when they see you, that's really touching," Whorton said.

Executive Director Jermaine Reed says it's all about helping youth to reach their full potential.

"These young people need a voice their families need a voice and I believe it is incumbent upon us to be that voice for the voiceless," Reed said. 

Clancy adds, "I would love to be like Mr. Reed cause I look at him as a father figure. The stuff he do, he is a successful man and I want to be where he is years from now."

Shaun Robey, associate director sums up the overall mission this way: "If we could spread some love, we could change things in this world one doorstep at a time."
 

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