Unique event aids local youth

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

AHOSKIE – It was a break from the ordinary.

For years, local fundraisers have been dominated by selling eatable products – barbequed chicken, pork barbecue, fish and even pancakes, just to cite a few examples. Those events are very successful, but there is always room to attempt something different.

A unique event that unfolded Saturday night at the Hertford County High School gym may prove as the future for fundraising efforts.

Stomping the BLOCK (Building Life Opportunities for Children and Kids) nearly filled the gym to capacity as over 1,000 turned out to witness “step teams” strut their stuff.

While those taking part in the competition were awarded trophies for their efforts, the real winners were local children enrolled in programs offered by Most Men, Inc. That non-profit entity is a public charity serving as an advocate for all youth and directly mentors to male youth. The organization was founded in Hertford County in July of 2005.

“With economic times like they are, we want to continue our efforts to keep our program running and give the young men in our program activities that keeps them off the street and out of trouble,” said Hillary Edwards who serves as Executive Director of Most Men, Inc. “But we need financial resources to keep our program running. The proceeds generated by the step show gave us the opportunity to continue our efforts.”

For a first-time event, the show turned out as a huge success, so much to the point that Edwards said it will now be held each Easter weekend.

“Things went really well,” Edwards noted. “We were very happy with the turnout and had a lot of positive feedback from the standpoint that those in attendance enjoyed the family atmosphere.”

The event featured Bone Hampton, a national comedian from Los Angeles who served as the emcee.

Those performing exhibitions included Most Men (dance routine), the “Raize the Praize” step team and drum line representing Ahoskie’s Carpenter’s Shop Church and the Chowan University step team.

Five fraternities sent groups to take part in the step team competition. They included:

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. from St. Augustine’s College – Raleigh (1st place);

Kappa Alpha Psi of Elizabeth City State University – (2nd place);

Nu Gamma Psi of Elizabeth City State University;

Omega Psi Phi of Elizabeth City State University; and

Kappa Alpha Psi, the Hampton-Newport News Alumni Chapter.

Judging the event were Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan, Ahoskie Town Council member Ronald Gatling, Roanoke Electric Cooperative Public Relations Director Robin Phillips and State Senator Ed Jones.

“We thank the judges for their help; they did a great job,” Edwards said.

Edwards noted the mission of Most Men is to fill a void left in the lives of the youngsters enrolled in the program.

“With non-traditional families becoming the norm in the United States, it has produced a shortage of male role models,” he noted “This has left a void with the male youth that has caused them to become ill equipped to transition from adolescence to manhood.”

Edwards has worked hard to help fill that void.

“We take the kids on field trips to Hampton University and Elizabeth City State to let them see what college life is all about,” he said. “At Chowan University, they are reaching out more, allowing their students to interact with our group to help with the tutorial part of our after school program.”

Currently, the Most Men program works with 20 local youth with another 20 on a waiting list.