But the euphoria was short-lived. Community activist William Shelton, who paid for the suits, heard his name over the loudspeaker. Eight Kenneth Cole watches were missing. Security cameras showed that some of his charges had stolen them -- a dispiriting reminder that while Shelton can take young men out of the Toga, wrenching the Toga out of them is far more difficult.
"You disrespected everything we are trying to do," Shelton scolded them a few days later in his office at Brookland Manor, where he is community relations coordinator. "At what point do you make a decision to do something positive with your life? You say you want jobs, but how can I send you out to jobs if I can't trust you? This is your life. You have to get rid of this get-over mentality."
It is a message preached daily by crusaders in the city's toughest neighborhoods: If you don't make better choices, you'll end up dead or behind bars. The message is sometimes heeded, sometimes ignored. But at community centers, schools and street corners across the city, mentors like Shelton are betting that individualized attention can make a big difference.
Most of the programs are aimed at disaffected young black men who are most likely to drop out of school, be unemployed or go to jail. They are either volunteer-supported or receive funding from city agencies, including schools, employment services and recreation, and juvenile justice. Many are tiny, draw from a single neighborhood and act as surrogate parents.More at the link provided.