We work with court assigned young men, ages 12 to 17, which are referred to us through Juvenile Court. On average, our youth have been through the juvenile court system at least three times before they come to us. Once enrolled at JIFF, they participate in a 16 week mentoring program that’s designed to redirect their value system and their behaviors. We focus on the H’s- head, heart, health (mind, body, and spiritual), home, hobbies, and hire-ability. Ultimately we are trying to get them to realize they have God given gifts. We help them develop a life plan and get them started on the right track. We do this through several tracks: mentoring, after-school programming, and strategic partnerships like CBU’s Enactus program that promotes financial health, Visible Music College that teaches music production, and Sweet La La's Bakery that provides on-the-job skills training. Our vision is to see our youth flourish, free from a life of crime.
Many weeks ago, I was on Live at 9 and there was a message waiting for me when I got back. The message was from a mother of a former JIFF youth. She told me she saw our interview and she wanted to let us know that JIFF saved her son Akeem’s life. When he was 14, he was referred to JIFF by Juvenile Court. He had already been locked up 26 times and shot multiple times. After going through the JIFF program, he decided to turn his life away from crime and he got a job working at McDonald's. Eventually he worked his way up to manager, and from there he got a job in the trucking industry. Now he does long distance hauling for a local freight company called Equity Transportation and he makes a great living. I called Akeem and asked him if he would come and speak to the kids and he agreed. Akeem even takes his rig out to Raleigh Springs Mall on Saturdays to teach kids how to drive so they can go into the trucking industry too. It's stories like this one that really inspire me.
JIFF needs education tutors, specifically reading and math, to help our youth academically. We also need Live Life Together mentors to be a life coach to our graduating kids as they leave the program so we can stay a part of their lives.
The Alliance is my safe haven, particularly the CEO Roundtable. It allows me to connect with my peers and as a new executive director it was a God-send. Membership in the Alliance helps me have the resources and assistance I need as I serve this organization. It’s in the community’s best interest to collaborate. It’s an overused word but it’s so important that we aren’t duplicating services. It's important that we band together and deliver the services that the community needs in the most efficient way possible. The Alliance facilitates that collaboration.