EDGEFIELD COUNTY, South Carolina (WJBF) – Several young men got a taste of what their future could look like from some inspiring adults.

About two dozen boys and their mentors connected at the Annual LEAD ME Boys Mentorship Banquet.

LEAD stands for Lead, Empower And Develop Me.

It’s a program put on by Edgefield County Youth Empowerment and it focuses on giving students an alternative other than being in the streets due to the crime rate in the community.

Organizers say they provide paid internships and seminars in order to prevent youth violence and reduce delinquency.

“It’s really here to cause them to open up about what’s going on in their lives. As I stated to someone, we would rather be a part of feeding them and fellowshipping with them than funeralizing them,” says Marcella Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of the Edgefield County Youth Empowerment Center.

“You don’t have to be a songwriter to make it out. It’s ok to be a teacher or a construction worker or those types of things. It’s a journey. Everything is not going to happen instantaneously. It’s not microwaveable success. You want it long term. You want to develop. You want to grow,” says Jaquan Edwards, a Wingate University Student.

Organizers say a girls program will take place in October.