Niagara Gazette

Opinion

April 10, 2014

DELUCA: Young men at the summit

Niagara Gazette — Not too long ago, Earl Bass was one of the young men in attendance at the annual Male Summit.

He remembers being a skinny kid, full of energy, listening to all the mentors and role models who gathered to inspire a couple hundred high schoolers. Bass, now 26, a Niagara Falls firefighter, will return to the summit Friday as a presenter.

He’s hoping his story will inspire his audience the way he was inspired when he was their age.

This 16th annual gathering of men was the brainchild of Niagara Falls Housing Authority director Stephanie Cowart, inspired by her membership in the Buffalo alumni chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which sponsored the first summit that she co-chaired in Buffalo.

I remember covering the Falls summit a few years back and being mightily impressed by the energy of the event. It was full of engaged and excited boys, surrounded by patient, smiling adult males who shepherded them through the various seminars, guest speakers and a delicious looking lunch. It reminded me of my son’s all-boys school in Kenmore — St. Joe’s Collegiate Institute — the first place I’d ever encountered where young men en masse were respected, supported and loved.

As the mother of sons I know that it is most challenging for a boy to grow into a good man without the presence of a good man to show him just how it’s done.

On Friday, the Doris Jones Resource Center will contain many such men, who will give of their time to help lead the way for dozens of Niagara Falls high school boys.

We should be proud of this program. It’s quite unique for a housing authority to be engaged in community building, but Cowart tells me that it’s all part of the mission of her agency. “Most housing authorities only involve themselves in the housing piece, providing safe affordable housing,” she said. “We take this more comprehensive approach to housing because we can’t be successful unless we effect the whole person.”

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