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‘Purpose center’ helps poverty-stricken youths build a sense of self-worth

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:03 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:12 AM EST
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Hard times have encouraged many community leaders to come together.

One local pastor says he’s stopped asking people to come to the church but instead to go out and be the church.

“People are hurting,” said the Rev. Yannik McKie.

For him, it’s personal.

“I lost both of my parents. I’m a convicted felon. I am you. I’ve been exactly where you’re at,” he said.

He says many minority communities are lost without direction.

That’s why he teamed up with mentor Deveron Mitchell in efforts to serve a demographic who has been left out and sometimes forgotten.

“I looked around the neighborhood and I realized there is a lot of poverty, a lot of kids just kind of hanging out with nothing to do,” Mitchell said.

“A lot of kids are dropping off – even some of the ones that are exceling usually at a higher level are starting to drop off.”

Together they created a “purpose center,” a place where people get a better understanding of self-worth and find a second chance.

“Men-in-training mentor programs that teach entrepreneurship for young women – they are going to be able to play games, Xboxes, PlayStations,” McKie said.

He says they want to provide long-term concepts to shift minds and educate people about their history-- pushing them to do and to be better.

“Black history is not just about what our heroes of the past did but also about what the community leaders and activists are doing today to be black history,” McKie said.

They’re breaking the continuous cycle in neighborhoods filled with poverty and empowering younger people to operate in success.

“We’ve been there,” McKie said. “We are them.”

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