The Commercial Appeal, Sunday, September 24, 2017
By Jeremy Park, President, cityCURRENT
Back in August, cityCURRENT and Smith & Nephew teamed with Memphis Athletic Ministries, fondly known as MAM, to host an event featuring guest speaker, Dr. Jen Welter. Dr. Welter is widely known as a trailblazer and pioneer in professional football, where she went from playing football for $1 a game to becoming the first female to coach in the NFL. I’ll share more about Dr. Welter’s incredible journey and some of her life lessons in a future column, but this event served as an opportunity to bring business and community leaders together with youth from MAM to not only get coached up from “Coach Jen,” but to meet each other, build relationships, and see the GOOD taking place at the nonprofit, as well.
MAM’s mission is “to help build godly youth in under-resourced neighborhoods by teaching them to love God, love others and love themselves.” The organization has 8 locations, strategically spread throughout our city, in areas typically under-served with youth programs. MAM offers a variety of sports programs, including basketball, flag football, soccer, baseball, and volleyball, for kids to learn and compete in a fun, safe environment. Their After School programs provide structured learning with academic tutoring and mentoring, along with recreation, games, and socializing. They have Bible Study and daily group devotionals, Career Readiness programs for high school juniors and seniors to learn employability skills, a Summer Academy for upcoming 3rd through 8th graders, and a Literacy Program in partnership with Literacy Mid-South. Through this partnership, MAM offers daily literacy classes for students to improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary with the help of adult volunteers and tutors.
Overall, MAM serves more than 750 youth per day. The youth range from ages 8 to 18 with 95% being African American and a boy to girl ratio of about 60/40. The best part is that their programs and efforts are working! Academically, the students are improving their grades and test scores; and their discipline, focus, and attendance at school are better, as well. When surveyed, 91% of the youth plan to attend college now and 73% participated in a community service activity this year; and 95% say MAM programs make them a better person.
There are many ways to say “Yes, MAM” and to help their efforts. Aside from offering financial support, consider sharing your gifts as a coach or assistant coach for their weekly practices and games. Work with their team as a volunteer, tutor, or mentor and share your knowledge of computers, marketing, finance, or music. The simple ingredient is love and your willingness to spend time with the youth. The more you can help them “see” how to succeed in life, the more they’re able to “be” the leaders we need them to be, positively impacting their lives and families, and our community. Learn more about MAM by visiting mamsports.org.