By: J. Chevont’e Alexander
“We are igniting dreams and building outstanding leaders!” says Minister V, clinic Executive Director of Youth Ministry Entertainment (Y-ME).
Youth Ministry Entertainment was launched in 2009 after Minister V received a vision to help change the Richmond community and make an impact on the lives of the inner city youth. Even though Minister V was battling personal distractions of his own, price including a job layoff and an abusive wife, drugs he took this sign to start Y-ME as a wake up call and an opportunity to change his life, and a chance to make a difference in the lives of Richmond youth. Minister V is the founder and visionary, executive director, program director, marketing director, promotion, van driver, counselor, and janitor of Y-ME, and everything else for the organization, to make sure the organization fulfills its mission and commitment to the Richmond community.
“Our mission is to save our youth and young adults by empowering them. If you change their mind set, their lifestyle will change as well.” comments Minister V.
Youth Ministry Entertainment is a community outreach organization that specializes in empowering youth and young adults by equipping them with life skills and the necessary resources that will allow them to achieve their dreams and goals in life. They believe in “training up the youth” by means of “educational entertainment”. Simply put, they are in the business of Igniting Dreams and Building Outstanding Leaders. The organization is a small, community supported resource that provides a positive environment for inner city kids. It is a great alternative to the ills of hanging out on the street, and it is evident that Minister V’s passion is encouraging youth. He uses entertainment as the method to make his message get through and have an impact on the kids. His message is one of good morals, ethics, spiritual guidance, and good character. The youth and young adults absolutely love coming to the organization’s community center to engage in their community activities. Everyone comes together regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background to accomplish the selfless goal of serving the community. They are known to always have a positive, high energy, and fun atmosphere. Everyone serves with gladness as if they were getting paid by the hour to do it, and are always willing to help and volunteer.
Volunteers very often come to the center to keep kids out of trouble and to help them appreciate life a bit more. The organization has letters from parents and teachers thanking Y-ME for their genuine investment in the community, and thanking them for improving their child’s attitude, behavior, and social skills.
“We are a fun, uplifting, giving, caring, and passionate group of people that love giving back. Just knowing that we are making a difference brings me extreme delight, fulfillment and satisfaction.” comments Minister V.
Statistics show that the city of Richmond and the surrounding communities continue to have an increase in risky behavior in our youth population, especially if children do not have anywhere to go and be productive. Y-ME is reaching the youth of metro Richmond by giving them a healthy alternative to risky behavior through their programs. The youth visit the elderly, serve at food pantries, and participate in litter pickup through their Community Service Program. They also host a free Stop The Violence Empowerment Concert & Skate Party for teens, along with an interactive After School & Summer Program, Monday through Friday all year round.
“Y-ME has become more than just a place my son could go during the summer, while I work. It has become a safe haven for Kyle, a place where he is shown love and respect and taught life skills that I couldn’t even begin to teach, a place where he is surrounded by real men, men that he aspires to be like and men that he can converse with,” says a parent of a child who attends Youth Ministry Entertainment.
Community Service Program
Y-Me has youth visiting the elderly, serving at the food pantry, and participating in litter pickup through their Community Service Program. These activities teach them appreciation, and the value of volunteerism, responsibility, and instills leadership & strong work ethics.
“Whenever I come to Y-ME, I see nothing but smiling faces and I also see the level of respect that the teens have for the counselors and especially for you.” comments Kim Jones, a local volunteer. “I want to personally extend my hand of appreciation to Minister V and his team for all that they have done, are doing and will do to inspire, lead and mentor the inner city youth of the North Side area and Richmond as a whole.”
Stop The Violence Program
The organization has a Stop The Violence Program called Swaggavation. Swaggavation is a combination of two words. Swagg means style & confidence, and motivation means to inspire or influence someone to act. When you combine the two, you get ‘swaggavation’. It means “Motivating Others To Have A Positive SWAGG”. Teenagers all over Richmond have been moved to bring awareness to stopping the violence through Y-Me’s Swaggavation movement. Teenagers from different communities come together to take their stand for peace and justice through the arts of dancing, rapping, stepping, poetry, singing, and doing skits at their free Swaggavation concerts, skate parties, and radio shows. This movement gives the young people the platform they need to speak out against bullying, suicide, gang violence, peer pressure, dating violence, sexting, and other social problems they face growing up.
Youth Ministry Entertainment hosts these free Stop The Violence empowerment concerts and skate parties for all teens in the community. The whole purpose of Swaggavation is to reduce crime and violence and unite teens. Y-ME focuses on teaching strategies on how to handle problems without resorting to violence. This powerful movement will have an effect on youth and young adults worldwide as a positive epidemic. Become a part of the movement, and visit www.swaggavation.com.
Youth Ministry Entertainment also hosts a Swaggavation internet radio show every Thursday night from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on www.repnvairadio.com. They discuss issues that young people deal with while promoting positive artists and positive hip-hop music. They have over 30,000 listeners and welcome new sponsorships and partnerships in the area to continue broadcasting and using media as a way to reach out to the community.
They also host quarterly Swaggavation Skate Parties. Y-ME events incorporate the ministry of Jesus Christ through rap, spoken word (poetry), stepping, singing and dancing. Because of this, the youth of metro Richmond are not only given the opportunity to exercise through skating but they are also being exposed to religion and Christ.
The Swaggavation Skate Party is held every quarter on the second Sunday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Skateland located on Hull Street Rd. The admission is free to the public. In order to keep the ministry moving forward within their outreach efforts, they do request that to enter the rink, canned good donations are collected at the door. Your help in donating canned goods will support the partnering of the many shelters throughout metro Richmond and surrounding areas.
After School and Summer Program
Y-Me’s interactive After School and Summer Program is filled with lots of learning activities as well as fun outings. The learning activities cover homework tutoring, arts and crafts, reading time, healthy relationships, violence prevention, bullying and peer pressure awareness, life skills, nutrition and fitness classes, wood shop, entrepreneurship and career development, AIDS and STD prevention, spiritual character development, and more. Their outings are to places like the library, Kings Dominion, Hadad’s Lake, fishing, skating, swimming, museums, bowling, and recording studios.
Their goals are to continue changing the mindsets of young people through their Stop The Violence Empowerment Concerts for teens. That, along with their interactive After School & Summer Program encourages them to avoid peer-pressure, bullying, joining gangs, suicide, sexting, and dating violence. Swaggavation teaches them anger management and conflict resolution.
How You Can Help
For four years now, Y-ME has been effectively impacting the youth and the community in the Richmond area with a very low budget. Ninety eight percent of their donations come from personal donors. Their personal donors give every month faithfully, and because of them, Y-ME has been able to acquire a small community center along with three vans in a short period of time.
“I am very grateful to God for this. And now, since our only challenge is a lack of finances, we are ready to expand throughout the rest of the city and to other states.” comments Minister V. “It is imperative that the young people all across the world receive our services.”
Y-ME needs volunteers with skills as a grant writer, administrative assistant, program director, accountant, marketing director, fundraising assistant, driver, and auto mechanic. They are also looking to expand across the city, so they would like to acquire a second location for an interactive After School and Summer Program. An additional van is also needed.
They are also looking for sponsors in support of their Swaggavation (Stop The Violence) Program. They are hoping to take the program to the next level at a larger venue and host a Lock-In Empowerment Concert. They will have many facilitators there to teach workshops on bullying, peer pressure, crime prevention, gang violence, anger management, and conflict resolution. They want positive artists to perform along with athletes and celebrities to speak to the youth. This will be a free event that also provides free food to all the participants.
To help continue the awareness of Youth Ministry Entertainment in the Richmond community, the organization also requests donation of marketing items like wrist bands, tshirts, and back packs. This will bring awareness to the Stop The Violence Movement and help reduce violence and crime in the city of Richmond eventually spreading to other states and then across the country.
Looking Into the Future
“I see Y-ME servicing the entire Richmond City area with several community centers for our youth and young adults.” says Minister V. “Then we will branch outside of Richmond to other counties and eventually to other states and around the world. We will provide them with the resources and programs they need that will empower them, reduce crime, and improve their employment opportunities which will lead them to a bright future.”
Minister V stands by his beliefs and his vision that Swaggavation will be a positive epidemic that will effect youth and young adults worldwide. There is no doubt that Minister V’s vision four years ago has truly come to fruition, and is having a positive impact and change on the lives of Richmond youth. He is motivating the next generation to dream big, and work hard.
If you want more information on how to volunteer, donate, or get a child or parent involved in Youth Ministry Entertainment, visit: www.swaggavation.com.