Men Who Care Global "stay the course" at Speed Street - | WBTV Charlotte

Men Who Care Global "stay the course" at Speed Street for second year

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Men Who Care Global donned their signature orange shirts for a second year at Charlotte's Food Lion Speed Street.

The group emerged in Uptown during a July 4th event in an effort to avoid a repeat of the violent aftermath of Speed Street 2011.

Antwan Smith, 22, was shot and killed after two groups began fighting along the 200 block of 3rd Street, just hours after the Annual Food Lion Speed Street event ended.

Smith was shot once in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.

Since the shooting, Men Who Care Global vowed to volunteer at large community events, walking the streets talking to young people and "model the kind of behavior we wanted our young people to exhibit," Founder Ron Leeper said.

The conversations can be a game changer in the course a young person is headed in.

It's not just some rehearsed speech from an elder but a show of care and concern from someone more like a mentor.

And not only a mentor, but the volunteers are sometimes seen as peace keepers – an extra set of eyes along with police.

Dozens from the group have donned orange for events other events like First Night and CIAA.

"This is really the first time we've had the kind of continuity for people who just want won't quit because they know we have a lot of work to do," Leeper said.

A lot of that work includes finding young men jobs. Lack of employment is a big complaint among many youth Men Who Care Global came across. That's why the group announced a jobs initiative a couple months ago. The idea is for MWCG to be a pipeline for youth, guiding them to organizations that already have training programs and place a mentor with each young person to keep them on track.

Leeper says tons of calls have been coming in.

"A big part of it is just going through the grind and making sure they have the necessary skills to not only get a job but keep a job…I think ever effort we can make to give young people hope it gives our broader community some encouragement that maybe we can make a difference," Leeper said.

Leeper notes that to keep the organization going and to help more youth, they are always looking for more men to be get involved.

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