By Karen Stokes
Ellis moved to the Borchert Field neighborhood in 2011.
Within a week of moving there, he heard shots fired, came outside and found a young man lying dead on the sidewalk.
Soon after, there were more shootings and Ellis decided change was needed.
“We have to invest in ourselves,” said Ellis. “We have to take back our hood.”
Last summer, Ellis began the “We Got This” initiative that had as many as 100 boys meeting on Saturday mornings at the corner of 9th and Ring Streets to pick up trash and work in the community garden, which Ellis also started. Each boy was paid $20.
Ellis and other compassionate adults mentored to the boys and began a grassroots Facebook campaign to raise money.
The community responded.
“I love how God is using this situation to help the community,” Ellis said.
Recently, Ellis was talking to the boys about dressing for success and not sagging.
They mentioned that they never went anywhere to dress up.
They didn’t go to church or to any nice restaurants. This gave Ellis the idea that the “We Got This” initiative should go to dinner.
On December 13, Ellis and 50 male mentors will accompany 50 boys to dinner at Carson’s Prime Steak and Famous Barbecue, 301 W. Juneau Ave from 2:00p.m. until 4:00p.m.
We were happy that we could accommodate them and thrilled that he chose us.”
The event is called ‘From Boys in the Hood, to Gentlemen on the Town’.
The boys and their mentors will be dressed to the nines in tuxedos provided by Torrences House of Threads, 4722 N. Fond du Lac Ave. and proceed downtown for a historical photo shoot outside in downtown Milwaukee.
Moving inside, the group will walk a “red carpet” to enter the venue and will enjoy a dinner.
The young men will be learning dining etiquette from their mentors.
Aldermen Willie Wade, Joe Davis and Russell Stamper, Minister William Muhammad, Eric Von, publisher of Brain, Brawn & Body magazine, Rob Jeter, head coach of UWM men’s basketball and Earl Stokes, afternoon personality on Jammin’ 98.3 are a few of the men who volunteered their time to mentor.
“I feel like it’s my duty to give back to the youth in our community,” said Stokes.
I grew up just a few blocks away in the Harambee Neighborhood.
Walking down the street I used to see guys dealing drugs but because of good role models and great parents I didn’t fall into that lifestyle.
The young men we’re mentoring need to know they can become anything they want, a doctor, a lawyer, they can follow their dreams.”
Ellis has introduced the young men to activities that they may have never had the opportunity to do prior to meeting Ellis.
From Brewers games and visiting UWM to shaking hands with President Obama during his Milwaukee visit, the boys have had an exciting year.
“Don’t judge young Black men, before you work with them,” Ellis added.
“December 13, will be a life changing day for Black boys in the hood. Change is coming to Milwaukee.”