Augusta, GA (WJBF)- A local organization focused on young men from the Harrisburg neighborhood has just celebrated it’s first anniversary. Boys With A Future focuses on education, arts, recreation and service to open a door to young men who may not have the opportunity otherwise.
Russell Joel Brown is well known in the CSRA for his career as a performer. After returning to Augusta following 12 years on Broadway with The Lion King, Brown found a new calling–working with children.
“Regardless of how much you have, if you have a lot or if you have a little, there’s always somebody that has less than you do,” said Brown.
Service to others is one of four tenants that Russell Joel Brown of Boys With A Future wants to teach the youth in the program. The program started as a two week summer camp through Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church.
“The camp was so successful that the church asked me if we could transform it into an after school program, with the same kinds of activities and the same…because it was very successful. We had a performance at the end, and all that,” Brown explained.
Brown said the program started with 13 kids, but due to conflicts, has 4 left. The program is working on expanding.”
“And so what we are doing now is expanding our program to include girls and to go younger, to skew younger.”
With the addition of girls to the program, comes a new name: Kids With A Future. 16-year-olds Jacob and Marcus Odom are two original members of the organization. They agree that they thought it might be lame, but soon changed their minds.
“And once I got used to it and everything it changed my mind on..it kinds changed my mind set and you know and it kinda changed the way I act a little bit,” said Jacob.
Before the program, Jacob wanted to be an actor and Marcus wanted to be a YouTube star. Since joining Boys With A Future, they say they are encouraged to continue to follow their dreams, but they have both decided that furthering their education is also important.
“Me, I feel like I would need to go to college to find what I really want to do, I don’t know what I want to do yet. So like, I really want to go to college,” Marcus said.
Summer Hodges’ 13-year-old son Christopher is also an original member of the program. She says that it’s had a positive impact on his life.
“Oh a lot. I mean his grades has gotten better. I mean 100% better. He’s learning a lot more. I mean, even his behavior to us is getting a lot better.”
Kids With A Future is a small group, but Brown says you don’t have to work with a large group of children to make an impact.
“And if you can touch the life of one child, it pays dividends that you can’t even imagine,” smiled Brown.
Boys With a Future is a nonprofit organization that relies on the community to keep going and Brown says that while the community has been very supportive, there is still much work to be done.
To donate to Kids with a future, just make checks payable to Good Neighbor Ministries/ 309 Crawford Ave/ Augusta 30909 and put Boys With A Future in the memo or “For” line.
Or you can CLICK HERE to make an online donation.