To mark its 5th Anniversary, 500 Men Making a Difference scheduled a slate of events and community projects for 2015 that was larger and more ambitious than ever before -- establishing mentoring and support relationships with several schools in the Bedford Stuyvesant community, forging new cooperative relationships with other community organizations and working with New York City government to establish a conservancy for Von King Park in Brooklyn. Here are highlights from a very active and successful 2015!
Martin Luther King Day Renovation Project at Magnolia Tree Earth Center
As part of its partnership with the Magnolia Tree Earth Center, 500 Men organized a three-day service project in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which involved the renovation of The Magnolia Tree Earth Center three historic brownstones located on Lafayette Avenue in Bed-Stuy over a 72-hour period. More than 80 volunteers participated in the effort, doing light construction, painting, cleaning and other renovation work on the brownstones, which was completed at midnight on Martin Luther King Day in January. Magnolia Tree is a community environmental organization that educates youth and others on the importance of preservation and environmental justice.
As part of the renovation project and celebration, 500 Men hosted a Sunday Men’s Breakfast at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall, where several community members were given awards for their community service work throughout 2014. On Monday, in celebration of the King Holiday, 500 Men hosted a viewing of the movie “Selma” which tells the story of the Bloody Sunday march by King and civil rights pioneers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, at the Linden Multiplex Theatre in Brooklyn.
Black History Month Celebration at LaGuardia Community College
Pan Africanist Jeffrey “Kazembe” Batts, led 500 Men’s Black History Month celebration in cooperation with LaGuardia Community College in February.
Building Homes in Haiti
For the second year in a row, in February, 500 Men sponsored a group of its members traveling to Haiti to participate with local community efforts to build homes for residents displaced by the massive earthquake of 2010. They helped with the construction of new homes and removal of debris from buildings destroyed by the quake.
Neckties for The DOE Fund
In March, 500 Men held a necktie drive for The DOE Fund, a non-profit organization helping formerly homeless men and women achieve independence and self-sufficiency. Nearly 900 neckties were collected allowing graduates of the DOE Fund’s “Ready, Willing and Able” program to receive two ties each to help them impress prospective employers on job interviews.
Mentoring USA Project
In March, members of 500 Men came out to deliver one day of mentoring and general advice to nearly 200 young men involved with Mentoring USA. Mentoring USA provides mentoring services to the homeless, foster children and recent immigrants and each of the members of 500 who participated took small groups of 14-to-18 year-olds through a series of questions designed to help them focus on making good life and career choices. The members also shared their life experiences and answered any questions the young men had about school, work and life’s challenges.
Kings Who Cook
For the fourth year, 500 Men participated in the Kings Who Cook fundraising event for Delta Sigma Theta sorority. About 25 members joined other men from the community during the month of March, cooking their favorite food items as part of a delicious lunchtime buffet that hundreds of people turnout for each year. Proceeds go to support annual community events sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta.