By Barney Blakeney
America’s young people are its most precious resource. That’s what a group of Lowcountry men are saying as they invite others to join in supporting the Mentor Exchange Club of Charleston, a new project begun last October with the goal of developing a coalition of mentoring programs and providing funding for their activities.
Exchange Club of Charleston member Kenneth Battle knows the invaluable resource the organization provides to our community. Exchange is an all-volunteer, national service organization for men and women who want to serve their community, develop leadership skills, and enjoy new friendships. Since 1957 through the annual fair the Exchange Club of Charleston raises money for local charities, scholarships, and various community needs. The 2016 Fair allowed it to offer more than $800,000 in support to over 90 worthy organizations and students in the Lowcountry in 2017! Battle thinks that kind of support can be a big boost to mentoring programs that serve minority communities.
Battle, who also volunteers for the Charleston Leadership Council, Inc.’s Beaux Affair ‘Rites of Passage’ Program thinks the exchange club can help programs change the mindset. So he’s joined with Samuel Bellamy, Kelvin Curtis and Darren Wise to develop the Mentor Exchange Club of Charleston (MXCC). The MXCC won’t conduct mentoring, but will provide funding to programs that do provide mentoring. And while the MXCC won’t specifically target minority programs to receive funding grants, programs that serve minority communities will be a priority because that’s where there’s a great need, he said.
The club’s first permanent organizational meeting will be 3 p.m. May 19 at the North Charleston Exchange Club Meeting Hall, 2138 Helm Ave., North Charleston.
Bellamy, who is board chair for the eight-year-old Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, said there are numerous mentoring programs in the community, but most don’t collaborate. Their goal is to facilitate collaboration that will help those programs better serve their communities.
The 501(c)(4) MXCC membership focus will be youth development and mentoring programs. MXCC will offer those programs opportunities to gain technical information about best practices, governance and recruitment in addition to funding, Bellamy said. Battle added, above all they will emphasize ‘rule 13 – have fun’!
For more information call Ken Battle at 843 425 6760. “Our young men and women need you,” he said.