Mentor Interview Dionté Prewitt

 

Mentor Dionté & son, Origin

Dionté and son, Origin

“I say ‘PEACE’ a lot. It’s an acronym I use: ‘Positive Energy Always Corrects Errors,’ and I say that to kids. They laugh at it, but it gets them to thinking.”Dionté Prewitt, who preaches “PEACE” to his kids, is the first mentor working under contract with Will Green at Mentoring Positives.

“A lot of times when I first meet kids,” he says, “they’re like, I wouldn’t say, defensive, but kind of shut down – they don’t speak much. I have to probe and ask questions. A lot of times they’re kind of negative, like when they socialize…maybe cursing or just using bad words…I do see a lot of change, especially when the kids are with me…after a while, the kids are – man, they are very good: they start to tell me about stuff they learn; they tell me how positive they are during the week. I can
definitely see a difference on that level…I’m still trying to hammer…that the whole point of the mentoring is not just to be good and do what you’re supposed to do
when you’re in the presence of adults, but try to do it when you’re on your own.”

Besides working with individual kids, Dionté is in charge of coming up with curriculum for “Skills Development” groups, where young men learn about life skills.

One of the most important parts of the curriculum for him is discussions about how to cope with growing up without a father – things like how to reconnect with your dad; how to talk to your mother about what your dad was like; and how to deal with your emotions if you feel your dad and yourself don’t connect. Dionté and Will both grew up without their fathers, and they can, as Dionté put it, “look into their [kids’]eyes and let them know that we’re there with them in that aspect, and just try to let them know that it’s OK to be bitter…but we also try to get them to reconcile, if they can, with their dads.”

Conflict resolution and anger management were the second curriculum subjects Dionté mentioned. He finds the kids often play with each other by being jokingly insulting or overly aggressive, which can lead to fights. MP tries to teach the kids how to communicate without being aggressive or demeaning, and how to be proactive about potential arguments or fights; how to find the right person to talk to at school about potential fights, someone who can help defuse it; and how to be positive with each other by giving a hug or a compliment rather than ribbing or ranking. Dionté introduces positive role models for African-American young men,
including local people who come and speak to the boys, such as Johnny Winston, Jr., who is a firefighter, and Officer Lester Moore of the Police Department. He also talks about historical figures who accomplished important things, trying to find more obscure people who the kids haven’t already heard of, as well as the more famous figures.

Dionté’s hopes for the future of MP are that it might get a facility to use as a comfortable headquarters and home base, where kids can check in, use a computer lab, maybe some classrooms and a gym. He’d also like to see more African-American mentors involved so that the kids can have those positive people in their lives and believe in positive career options for themselves. He feels that the development of MP, in the almost four years he has been with it, has been “amazing.” He’d like to see it grow and receive the recognition it deserves for its uniquely effective programming for youth. In addition to his work with MP, Dionté is also employed as Recreation Coordinator at the Salvation Army. He has a wife, Stephanie, and a daughter, Demetria, 6, and son, Origin, 2. He has a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from UW Eau Claire.

 

A Note from Director Will Green

Serving Our Youth & Families

Will holding Extra Mile award from Rainbow Project

Will holding Extra Mile award
from Rainbow Project

Mentoring Positives Inc. is ready to serve our youth and families in need of our mentoring support. In these hard economic times, it is hard to deliver quality mentoring services, but with the support of our community and our volunteers, MP is able to adapt to these harsh financial times and continue to be creative in delivering our mentoring services.

Going the Extra Mile – Rainbow Project

I was humbled when given the “Extra Mile” Award from the Rainbow Project this past year. However, we all know that we are not out here alone and cannot do it by ourselves. Mentoring Positives, Inc. has a number of mentors, Board members and volunteers who make Mentoring Positives a great program for youth and families.

Positive Role Models bring Mentoring Success

January is National Mentoring Month and I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who makes it their civic responsibility to be a positive role model in our youth’s lives. As we reflect back on our past year, we have had a lot of great successes for a small organization.

Skills Development Groups Fundraiser

In addition, MP was given the opportunity to work in the suites and luxury seats at Camp Randall for a total of 7 home football games. We had 65 people volunteer at the football games as a fundraiser for our MP Skills Development Groups. And in 2010, Channel 3 reporter Maria Guerrero became a mentor with Mentoring Positives. She is volunteering her time as a mentor of a young Latina girl from the Darbo area.

Madison Police Department’s Continued Support

The Madison Police Department (MPD) continues to support Mentoring Positives  programs as we continue to work together providing programming to our youth. A special “Thank You” to the MPD who contributed to our end of the year “Volunteer
Recognition” Party.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, Board members, Mentors, and community supporters for their commitment to kids and families and the work we do at Mentoring Positives!

Neighborhood Collaboration

Salvation Army

MP continues its collaboration with the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army Community Center is planning to expand its programming hours and MP hopes to be able to offer the community more programming during that time. A big thank you to the Salvation Army for the provision of essential gym space and other amenities that support neighborhood youth programming!

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

MP’s association with Holy Cross Lutheran, a neighborhood church, expanded this spring with the church graciously giving MP use of farm acreage right in the neighborhood for our food production programs.

Parents

MP collaborates with parents too. We recognize the deep importance of strong relationships with parents, so part of our job is to make sure we are talking to parents and getting their help whenever possible.

Testimonials from Collaborators

Our collaborations have drawn fourth the following testimonials.

“I saw firsthand the asset that Mentoring Positives and Will Green are to the youth, community and the Darbo neighborhood. Will Green is able to connect with youth and young adults and provide them with life skills. He is a leader that people look up to. Money invested in the program is well spent!”

MPD Neighborhood Officer

 

“We have partnered with Will’s group since June of 2006, Mentoring Positives has had a direct positive impact on more than a dozen young men right here in the Worthington Park Community. I believe the program is well staffed and has good leadership. I feel that with some added resources, it is a model for others to follow. We look forward to our continued relationship with Will and his group.”

Salvation Army Staff

 

“The Madison Police Department and Worthington Park Neighborhood Association have been working in partnership with Mentoring Positives for several years now. The Mentoring Positives program is an unbelievable asset to this community because of the dedication and passion of its Executive Director, Will Green. Since Mentoring Positives started working in the neighborhood, there has been a significant decrease in juvenile disturbances and crime. This is a program that residents of Madison can always count on for support. I highly recommend Mentoring Positive’s program to any agency willing to bring it to their neighborhood. I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact it has made on the East side of Madison and believe that the program could work throughout the entire city of Madison WI.”

MPD Police Sergeant

 

“I am a single parent trying to raise a bi-racial boy who has both behavioral and emotional problems. I was afraid that I would lose my son to either the streets or the system. Mr. Green spent several hours a day with my son and took on responsibilities that only a parent should have. Mr. Green made himself available to anyone that dealt with my child. When I am at my breaking point, I can call Mr. Green. He as taught my son that not all African American men are “gangsters” thugs, or always in and out of jail. He truly cares about the kids. We have been very fortunate to have Mr. Green a part of our lives over the past two years. He and his team have made it possible for us to trust and to know there are people who truly care.”

A Grateful Parent

 

 

 

At Risk Youth Leader Academy

Our Leader Academy is providing a wide range of services to at risk youth including crisis intervention one-on-one life skills coaching, assistance with social service networks, individualized academic mentoring and career guidance. Youth involved will also be trained to become positive role models for younger children in their circles.

Life Skills

The Leader Academy includes life skills development programs and peer discussion as well as college and career exploration opportunities. Life skills development programs include effective time management, setting and achieving goals, resisting negative peer pressure and dollar power financial literacy.

Youth At Risk for Several Different Reasons

Many middle and high school aged youth will be enrolled in the Leader Academy with a focus on youth from the Darbo / Worthington Park neighborhood on Madison’s east side, Generally, these youth are considered at-risk due to single-parent households, low socioeconomic and minority status, and/or because of their need for consistent supervision and positive role models. The program will continue to be housed in the Darbo Salvation Army Community Center and at the Worthington Park Neighborhood Association office.

Other Entrepreneurship Programs

Other programs of MP include continuation of Off the Block Salsa, the development of East Side Barbecue and the formation of ReJeweled Coop. These entrepreneurship programs complement in-school learning and development during non-school hours. MP currently serves 100 youth per year. Funds raised through these programs will allow for continuation of services to this number plus an estimated additional 75 youth.

 

 

Volunteer Recognition

volunteers donate

MP held a volunteer recognition event on December 11, 2010 at The Pizza Oven in Monona, WI

Three interns this year – all studying in the Human Services and Criminal Justice Fields!
Joe Mingle, community volunteeractivist,
volunteered his time facilitating the
Darbo “Off the Block Salsa” Project.

 

Numerous speakers came out to our Boys’ Skills Development Groups in 2010

police donate resources

*Madison Police Dept./Gang Task Force officer, Lester Moore
*Community Leader/Madison Fire Department Detective Johnny Winston, Jr.
*Ex-Badger Football player, Michael London
* American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
* Joni Dye, from the Madison Metro Golf Initiative

youth mentoring

Channel 3 Reporter Maria Guerrero
volunteered her time as a mentor of
a young girl from the Darbo area.

 

 

Madison Police Department volunteered
their time co-facilitating a Girls’ Basketball
Group this summer for the
Darbo/Worthington Park area girls.

youth-help

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

65 people helped volunteer at the UW Badger Home Football Games,
totaling 390 hours of volunteering as a fundraiser for MP Skills Development Groups.

others helpmentoring-volunteers

Mentoring Positives at Badger Bioneers

Recognition for Mentoring Positives came thick and fast in 2011 and included Will Green’s invitation to speak to the Badger Bioneers conference.

Badger Bioneers is an annual two day event held each November, highlighting the work of Madison citizens who are creating a sustainable future, whether by greening their business, imparting Earth knowledge in the classroom, or nurturing the people and places of their communities. The conference invites talks by “local” sustainability heroes,” which it recognizes for their “innovative, creative work in community development and resilience – the heart of sustainability.”

Here is how the Badger Bioneers’ Website describes Mentoring Positives:

Mentoring Positives’ ten mentors currently work with 45 kids ranging from 10-year-olds to late teens. It has been hailed as “an unbelievable asset” by the Madison Police Department and praised by local parents and officials alike for providing a safe, supportive haven for young men.

“The program doesn’t have the reach, or the funding, of large and established mentoring programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Green says that he is trying to hook the kids who have behavioral or mental issues that those programs don’t individually address. Yes, he plays basketball with teens, but Green’s mentees talk about life, help each other address family issues, and work through school suspensions.”