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Helping boys solve the equation of how to become men

April 06, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

William Emanuel teaches algebra at Hagerstown and Frederick community colleges, but this educator says the most important thing he does is to teach boys how to become men.

As part of the work he does at the Faith of Jesus Center on Hagerstown's Marion Street, Emanuel and other presenters will hold a Manhood Training Retreat from April 22 to 24 at the Mount Aetna Camp and Retreat Center on Mount Aetna Road, just off Md. 66.

"This is our fourth year. Our goal is to reach young men, to help them understand what it does mean to be a man," Emanuel said.

Some of the topics that will be covered include preparing for college, how to prepare for life, how to deal with problems in a marriage and how to conduct a relationship with a woman before marriage, he said.

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"We're trying to make them into true men with some purpose and some direction so they can help their communities and themselves," Emanuel said, adding that he believes many youths in America are troubled.

"We see our communities are falling apart. Some young people don't even see the need for an education," he said.

It can be frustrating, Emanuel said, for young men of color to go to school and not see any teachers or professors who look like them. They begin to believe that education is not for them, he said.

"I said to this one young man who told me he was going to drop out, 'Who wins if you do that?'" Emanuel said.

"They need mentors. We're trying to give them another view," he said.

"The school system isn't doing a good job because it doesn't teach them who they are," Emanuel said, adding that he has seen young men decide after seeing a black history program that college might be a possibility.

Another part of the problem is that there are so many young men growing up without a father in the home, he said. Without a role model, they often don't learn what a son's duty is to his parents, his family and to himself, Emanuel said.

Emanuel, an electrical engineer by trade, said he began to work with young men when his nephews, who didn't have a father in their lives, needed some guidance.

That work grew into the Manhood Training Retreat, now in its fourth year, he said.

"The first year, we started with a little less than 10. The second year, we had moved that to 15 to 20 and last year, we had 24 just from a (Washington) D.C. church and 35 total," he said.

Participants will arrive at the center about 3 p.m. and will stay in cabins on the site, where meals will be provided through Sunday, when the retreat ends.

Presenters include Evangelist Drew Smith, pastor of the Maranatha Outreach Church Ministry Beverly Healthcare Center; Bishop Lovell Wilson, president of Dottie Wilson Ministries and Minister James Griffin, longtime teacher and treasurer of the the Citizens of New Jerusalem (CONJ), a Christian home fellowship ministry.

Also on hand for the event will be Darien McKinney, a criminal-justice major at Virginia State University; and Dakollie Elmer Lavala, a native of Liberia who is active in the Maranatha Church of God in Frederick and a member of Bethel World Outreach Ministries in Silver Spring, Md.

The cost for the weekend is $125 per person. I asked Emanuel how, if he hoped to get impoverished young men from all the area's communities to attend, they would pay that fee.

"What we're trying to do is to get these young men sponsored by getting churches and individuals to donate. We pray people out in the community will help," he said.

Emanuel does what he can, he said, by continuing to speak to the local youths who have attended these events.

Unfortunately, he said, so far there haven't been many from this area. He emphasized that the retreat is open to all races and nationalities.

Checks may be made payable to Dottie Wilson Minstries and sent to 129 E. Patrick St., Frederick, MD 21701. Please note that it's for the manhood retreat.

For more information on the retreat, call 301-791-5776, or visit Emanuel's Web site at peopleofcolor1.com.

Bob Maginnis is Opinion Page editor of The Herald-Mail.

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