TYLER – BCFS Health and Human Services-Tyler partnered with Cuttin Up Barber Shop to present Man 2 Man, a skill-building workshop and mentorship event focused on helping young men look good, feel good, and most importantly, learn how to become gainfully employed. The workshop helped young men, predominantly from foster care, make positive connections in the community to receive on-going support as they transition into adulthood. More than 40 men from BCFS-Tyler and adult mentors participated in Man 2 Man on April 2.
Man 2 Man taught the young men professional attire for an office setting, and daily relaxed, casual wear. Barbershop owners Kierondale Lewis and Kendrick Austin offered free haircuts, grooming supplies and hygiene tips, and demonstrated professional, stylish cuts for the workplace.
Several other community partners rallied around BCFS-Tyler and Cuttin Up to enhance Man 2 Man. Local pastors, a coach from John Tyler High School, a Behavioral Specialist from Tyler Independent School District, DFPS staff, and even a retired FBI agent spoke to the youth about success, education, learning a skill and contributing to their community.
“The mentors were extremely motivational in their speeches to the young men,” BCFS Director Carla McCalope said. “Whether you continue your education after high school or not, you can still have a stable career and be successful, but you have to be motivated. You can’t just give up; you have to work hard.”
One guest speaker on hand, Nick Wilkerson, completed BCFS-Tyler’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program years ago and came back to speak to other young men from similar backgrounds served by BCFS-Tyler – many of them from foster care or unstable home environments. Nick was named Texas Foster Youth of the Year in 2015 by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). He spoke at Man 2 Man to offer his perspective on struggle, perseverance and patience.
“All I can say is get in there and grind it out,” Nick told the young men. “If you can just get it done, push through one day at a time, trust me, it will come; people will notice your good deeds. Work hard, try your best.”
The workshop materialized when BCFS Director Carla McCalope recognized that the young men BCFS serves needed to develop “simple, soft skills” that would boost their self-confidence and make a good first impression with a potential employer.
“Truthfully, our profession of social services is such a woman-dominated field,” explains McCalope. “Our young men need positive male role models that can offer a male perspective about good decision-making and how to be a man of integrity. One young man came up to me after the event and said ‘I liked this; I like you ladies, I see you all the time. But it is nice to see some other guys.’”
“Our mentors are local men who have wanted to become involved somehow, but were initially unsure and a bit nervous,” McCalope explained. “Now they have a good experience that they can use and they are excited to plan for the next mentor meeting. They are eager to help our young men mature into strong husbands, fathers and contributing members of our community.”
Tyler’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que catered lunch, Tyler Beverages, Inc. provided drinks, and Flowers Baking Company offered breads and desserts.
BCFS-Tyler serves youth from foster care and young adults at risk of abuse, neglect and other challenges, helping them transition into adulthood using a holistic service approach and a centralized location they can access community resources. For more information about BCFS-Tyler, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler or call (903) 526-0882.
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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.