In response to the rampant gun violence in Philadelphia, ManUpPHL hosted an urgent anti-violence call to action and rally to recruit volunteers in the City Hall Courtyard.
“Today is about action,” said Solomon Jones, journalist, community advocate, and founder of ManUpPHL.
“It's about bringing people together and allowing them to use their skills to help our young men and women stop killing each other,” said Jones. “It is about mentoring, and providing social services, resources, and help. Because you can’t tell our young people, “okay, put down the guns”, if you don't put anything else in hand. This is about getting the resources in our community together. The main resource that we have, and that resource is people.”
As children and teens are increasingly being impacted and often caught in the crossfire, ManUpPHL mentors are stepping into the lives of men aged 18 to 35 who are statistically most likely to be victims or perpetrators of the gun violence that’s plaguing the city of Philadelphia.
ManUpPHL programs and initiatives are aimed at fighting gun violence with jobs and mentorship, therapy, and other community-based assistance and services.
“ManUpPHL is a mentoring program. We provide accountability resources and consistency. We work with young people, the “ Listening To The Streets Initiative” is where we bring them in, in groups, and we talk to them about gun violence. About the causes and the effects of gun violence and solutions,” said Jones.
“Listening to the Streets” unites young men from various neighborhoods to create street-level solutions to gun violence. Participants receive a $240 stipend, and if they attend 8 sessions, they’re guaranteed a job offer.
Today’s rally was crucial and necessary to achieve their overall goal. In order to serve more of the city’s youth and young adults interested in programs such as the “Listening To The Streets”, ManUpPHL is in need of more volunteers.
“And as I said earlier, we don't do it with cameras. We do it so that we can actually learn what is happening and learn how we can best help them because they understand what's going on the best. They're the ones who's lives are at risk. It's not us. It's them. Ultimately what we want to do is to provide them with an opportunity to receive some leadership, and then provide them with an opportunity to give some leadership,” said Jones.
Dozens of people came out to offer their time and to lend a helping hand, both volunteers and potential male mentors.
“We're mainly trying to get volunteers and mentors to help us with many things, such as community outreach, tech, and (securing) grants,” said Kenneth Dean, ManUpPHL mentor and social media specialist.
“What I've noticed mainly on social media is that we pretty much get parents through those channels and it's mainly mothers who reach out for help for their sons,” said Dean.
Though the organization was rooted in providing male-to-male engagement, “you can't leave Black women out,” said Jones.
“Without those sisters, we wouldn't be able to do what we do. They help us with our events and our fundraising. They have a care team that connects these young men to resources. They coordinate our volunteers, they have been key to our success,” Jones said.
As the group gains momentum and the women are honing in on their niches, ManUpPHL can still use a few more good men.
“We called people out today because we need more. We have all of these young men. We need more men and women to come together to provide the hope that these young people need,” said Jones.
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