“The Males Place mentorship program works to grow more than plants,” said Reggie Singleton, the founder and executive director of The Males Place. “We’re growing men. We want to ensure that participants in our program grow up to be producers and not just consumers. Community gardens aren’t just a way to beautify cities; they foster relationships and teach life skills.
“We believe in preparing our boys to live holistically. They learn to prepare soil with organic materials, maintenance techniques, harvesting knowledge and distribution skills. All of this prepares them to become productive and active members of the community. We are providing a guided journey into manhood,” said Singleton, a certified master gardener who works in public health.
The Males Place, a nonprofit organization that started in 1993, has 10 volunteer mentors who work with the 25 boys in the program throughout the year. Many of the boys in the program have grown up without fathers. The men who volunteer are critical to the mentoring success.
Each Wednesday, the boys meet from 6 to 8 p.m. to learn life skills and subjects related to cultural enrichment. In addition, the boys are taught African history and recent American history that is specific to Black people.
Every Saturday morning they gather at the Males Place Garden at the Fred Alexander Park to work on the garden. The program has two growing seasons: April to August and August to December.
And on the fourth Wednesday of each month the boys are required to wear a shirt and tie and attend the meeting with their parents. “We have educational programs aimed at the parents so they are able to reinforce the lessons the boys are learning,” Singleton said. “Truliant participates in these programs, offering financial literacy information. The Males Place is about more than the 25 boys. It’s about the entire family.”
Most of the food produced in the garden goes to the boys in the program and their families or it is provided to local seniors and low-income members of the community. Some of the produce is sold during the summer on Tuesdays at the Rosa Parks Farmers Market, 1600 West Trade St. And each December they sell collard greens for holiday meals.
“The Truliant Foundation is honored to be able to contribute to the success of The Males Place,” said Atticus Simpson, director of the Truliant Foundation. “In addition to gardening and mentoring, the regional and international trips that they take are vital to increasing their exposure and knowledge of the world.”
In addition to trips to North Carolina A&T State University, Clemson University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Tuskegee University to learn about agriculture, they have taken trips to Cuba and Ghana to learn how those countries produce food. For more than 25 years, The Males Place has provided vital skills and opportunities to more than 4,000 boys in the Charlotte community.
About The Truliant Foundation:
The Truliant Foundation supports Truliant Federal Credit Union’s commitment to community and its social responsibility to give back to the neighbors it serves. Established in 2021, the foundation provides support to nonprofit community partners working to enhance the quality of life in member communities. The donor-advised fund was created by Truliant and is administered by the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation. Donations to the foundation are tax deductible. Learn more at Truliant.org/Foundation.
About Truliant Federal Credit Union:
Truliant Federal Credit Union is a mission-driven, not-for-profit financial institution that improves lives by providing financial guidance and affordable financial services. Chartered in 1952, Truliant now serves 280,000+ members and has more than 30 Member Financial Centers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Heath Combs
(o) 336.293.2054 (c) 336.442.5736