A former Hampton University student of the year caught people off guard to end Black History Month when he presented everyone with a Domino piece, encouraging everyone to be like that piece by standing together.
Shortly before black history month ended, New Jerusalem Baptist Church Youth Ministry in partnership
with Siloam Baptist Church hosted a black history month program highlighted by the theme of supporting our leaders and Washington & Lee High graduate Edward Reed.
“When we look at Black History Month, African Americans think about their ancestors and those who struggled for so long to get us to where we are now to have the opportunities for a higher education,” said Reed. “For us not to take an initiative on those opportunities I think our ancestors are turning over in their graves. We have to do a better job to bring that message home to our minority students especially.”
In Reed’s address to the attendants, he shared on how important it is to remember this year’s theme of supporting leaders by being like dominoes and stand together. In another way of support, Reed also announced that he and fellow schoolmates from Washington & Lee High School have formed of an organization called Youth Empowerment Services of Westmoreland [Y.E.S.] to assist students starting in middle school with furthering their education.
“We’ve been pondering the idea of finding a way that students get involved at a very young age on the college application process…and we just had to do something about it,” said Reed.
Reed said there is quite a bit of similar organizations to Y.E.S. and appreciates what they offer. He added that he and his partners were just led to take this action and offer a mentoring program as well.
“We don’t want to take anything from the high school, we just want to be backups and help reinforce the importance of SATs and learning how to pay for school,” said executive board member Kerry Payne. ‘We just want to help them out.”
“We all have a connection to youth…we just put our ideas together into this one program,” Reed said, adding that the organization is open to anyone, no matter what race or ethnic background.
“We just strive to bridge for that gap we currently have between the middle and high school students,” Reed said.
“My peers and I aren’t oblivious to the fact that we have accomplished so much due to the assistance of others, and that’s what we want to do for the next generation, give back,” said executive board member Julisa Hackett. “That’s the purpose of Y.E.S., ‘each one, teach one.’”
An informational session will be held at Washington & Lee High School. No date has been set at this time. Reed said he and his partners plan to contact churches and local organizations as soon as information is available.
Julisa L. Hackett is currently a WIA Youth Services Case Manager at Rappahannock Community College. She is a 2012 graduate of George Mason University and majored in Government and International Politics, minored in Business. She is a 2007 graduate of W&L.
Edward Reed, a 2006 graduate of W&L, worked previously with the Hampton University Admissions office. He serves as a legislative assistant to Delegate Rosalyn R. Dance, Chief Political Consultant for Justin Fairfax for Attorney General, and Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Services of Westmoreland County.
Kerry Payne, a fellow 2006 graduate, works with Youthbuild in Essex County. He is a 2009 graduate of Morehouse College majoring in political science. Payne expects to finish soon with earning his masters degree in public administration from Strayer University and continue his goal of joining corporate law.
Brandon Johnson, a 2006 graduate of W&L, is currently director for the YMCA in Lancaster County.