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The headline in last Thursday’s Augusta Chronicle ‘Juvenile Crime up 23% in Richmond in the last year’ was troubling.  So much so that I teamed up with a friend who manages three Waffle House restaurants and three local organizations that work directly with at-risk and disenfranchised boys to do something about it. A press conference was held Wednesday and once again the local media were there. Our CBS and NBC affiliate, our daily newspaper and the black owned weekly newspaper were there and gave us much coverage and much love. In about 24 hours, we’ve got over 60 men who have signed up to serve as mentors for our young boys. Our goal is 250 men, by August 7th, who commit to at least one hour per week with a young man. It seems we’re well on our way. We’ve even attracted people who want to help ‘recruit’ men to get involved. I’m blown away by the response we’ve received in such a short time…

The following article was featured in today’s Augusta Chronicle. http://www.augustachronicle.com

Effort seeks mentors for young males
By Stephanie TooneStaff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helen Blocker-Adams met with media and community partners Wednesday about filling the void of father figures in the lives of Richmond County’s young males. // <![CDATA[//

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Radio host Helen Blocker-Adams (right) and Waffle House District Manager Escubar Moore (left) want men to volunteer to be mentors for young males to help combat the rise in juvenile crime in Augusta.

Mrs. Blocker-Adams, a talk show host on WNRR-AM 1230, said she was disturbed after reading in The Augusta Chronicle that juvenile crime has increased 23 percent in the past three months, compared to the same time last year. That should be a wake-up call to Augusta, she said.

“Juvenile crime is just off the Richter scale,” she told a crowd in front of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway on Wednesday. “We have to find some surrogate fathers for these young males because a lot them don’t have one.”

She and Escubar Moore, the district manager of three Augusta Waffle House restaurants, will sponsor the Back to School Men’s Drive for Kids, a campaign to recruit positive male role models for Augusta’s male youth.

By July 27, Mrs. Blocker-Adams and Mr. Moore hope to sign up 250 men to volunteer with local mentoring agencies: Dads in Action, An Ounce of Prevention and Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry.

Mr. Moore said men can sign up at Waffle House locations on Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge Road and Wrightsboro Road. The men are asked to give one hour a week with one of the three mentoring agencies. About 75 men had signed up to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Moore said.

“I hope we blow that number away and have even more,” he said. “That 250 hours per week can make a whole lot of difference in our community.”

Devon Harris, the executive director of the Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry, has worked with troubled youth for several years. He said the statistics are not surprising. A positive male in the lives of some of the young men in his program could make a difference in their lives and have an impact on the community, Mr. Harris said.

“We want to think it’s somebody else’s problem or the government’s problem, but we have to plant the seed,” he said. “These young men are looking for guidance. They want someone to invest in their lives.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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