The Mentoring Positives Inc. 8th Anniversary Fundraiser was held Nov. 10 at the Town Center at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
“I am truly honored to say a few words on the behalf of Mentoring Positives,” said keynote speaker and Madison Chief of Police Noble Wray. “They have been very important for me, the police department, and the community.
“Mentoring Positives is based out of Darbo/Worthington [neighborhood] and every neighborhood officer who has worked in Darbo/Worthington since [Mentoring Positives Executive Director] Will Green has been out there has commented and talked about how he has been a critical asset to them in partnering with that neighborhood,” Wray added. “It’s been a tremendous partnership.”
Mentoring Positives Inc. (MP) is an innovative referral-based mentoring program servicing kids and families throughout Dane County and outlying areas. Their goal is to improve youths' behaviors in the home, school, and community so they will not engage in criminal behaviors that ultimately lead to juvenile detention, jail, or prison and, thus, breaking the cycle of recidivism for high-risk youth.
Mentoring Positives' mentors currently work with dozens of kids aging from 10-years-old to late teens. It has been hailed as "an unbelievable asset" by the Madison Police Department and praised by local parents and officials alike for providing a safe, supportive haven for young men.
Wray said the emphasis in the partnership has not been on arrest and the criminal justice system but on prevention and intervention. “If you have ever had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with Will Green and the crime prevention gang unit and others ... do it,” Wray said. “It’s really impressive to see how they look at young people not just from the perspective of being gang members but how they can support them and get them going in the right direction.”
Mentoring Positives Inc. programming has four components that include traditional one-on-one mentoring and group mentoring; skills development groups; day services-school suspension support; and parent aide support. Mentoring Positives targets elementary, middle, and high-school aged youth (8-18 years old) who have a history of difficulty adjusting in the community, school and/or home environments or a history of school suspensions/expulsions and repeated habitual truancy.
“Mentoring Positives is not work for Becky and Will Green,” Wray said, speaking of the husband and wife team. “It’s a way of life and a way they do business. They are true believers in what they do. Will Green has a profound gift to connect and relate to people in all walks of life — from a gang member on State Street to a mayor on Carroll Street.”
Wray went on to say that Green is a powerful mentor for so many young people. “But he’s more than a mentor … he’s a male role model in many of the neighborhoods where we have a male role model deficit,” Wray said. “Congratulations to Will and Becky and Mentoring Positives. You have made a great impact on the Madison community.”
The 8th Anniversary Fundraiser event was also a chance to award the second annual Muriel Pipkins Award which was created in honor of Green’s mom who succumbed to breast cancer at the young age of 46. Pipkins was a role model and mentor to many in her family and to ordinary people on the streets. She displayed a passion for taking care of people that Mentoring Positives thrives to replicate in its goal of "impacting kids and families through positives mentoring relationships.”
Fabiola Hamdan, a Joining Forces for Families social worker in the Darbo/Worthington neighborhood, accepted her award from Mentoring Positives by talking a little bit about her experiences with the agency. ‘Through my job I meet many people who are very vulnerable and sometimes full of sorrow and sadness. I meet young people who don’t have opportunities and support to continue their education,” Hamdan said. “All of these people need programs like Mentoring Positives and people like Will Green. How can we expect our kids to succeed in life if we don’t give them the support they need and the opportunities to achieve? For many of them, it’s impossible without the love and unconditional support of the family and the community.”
Real community is about local residents stepping forward and making things better, she continued. “Will Green has been a great asset to our community and the Joining Forces for Families team,” Hamdan said. “Thank you for supporting Mentoring Positives and keep doing it. I know with all of us and all of our help that we can do great things. Muchas Gracias!”
Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, echoed her praise for Mentoring Positives as he accepted his award.
“I’ve gotten to know Will really well over the last two years and he is the real deal,” Caire said. “We have to find a way to grow Mentoring Positives here in this community. My dream is that in the next 12 months that Will will be able to do this work full time.”
For more information about Mentoring Positives, please visit www.mentoringpositives.org.