With two young boys on the verge of becoming teenagers, Ladreica Figgers knew her boys needed to know a few things they could only learn from other men.
So when she heard about Fellas Night Out, an event in which men in the community spend an intense 18 hours mentoring young boys, she didn’t want her sons to miss out.
“It was great for me. There are mostly women in my family,” she said, “and I didn’t want my boys to learn discipline by getting into trouble the way I did.”
The inaugural Fellas Night Out was July 12 and 13 at the Joe Ferolito Recreation Center. The event is the brainchild of Quincy City Commissioner and Carter-Parramore Academy Administrator Keith Dowdell and Quincy Police Department Sgt. Eugene Monroe Jr.
In addition to healthy doses of advice, common sense and man-to-man talks, the bottom line was: actions, whether good or bad, lead to consequences. Dowdell said the message was given to the boys in every possible way, from recreation to lecturing.
“The best part was the rock-climbing wall. I made it all the way to the top and rang the bell; I didn’t think I could do that,” said 11-year-old Jaharold Williams.
Dowdell said that was one of the event’s goals.
“We wanted to show them that they can accomplish more than they think they can, but sometimes it takes more than one, two, maybe three or four attempts — but they can reach their goals,” Dowdell said. “But first they have to set goals.”
From the time the youngsters arrived until 7 a.m., someone was playing basketball. Carlton Roache, 10, Jaharold’s bother, said the basketball was his favorite part of the 18-hour sleepover.
“I didn’t go to sleep until 7 o’clock the next morning. I just loved playing basketball. My leg got a little tired but I kept playing,” he said.
Between basketball he said he learned about cyber-bullying and bullying. Sometime during the night several boys were in the restroom and attempted to bully him about his last name. He said he was listening when Assistant Police Chief Glenn Sapp talked about bullying and how to handle it. There was also a session on identify theft.
“He had just said if someone starts to bully you, walk away and tell someone. I walked out and just let it roll off of me; I wasn’t going to fight them and get into trouble,” he said.
Florida A&M University students who are members of Omega Psi Phi fraternity added a little fun and amusement with a step show.
“It was fun, and I liked watching them. They told us the way to get into the fraternity is to make good decisions so you can go to college and make good grades in college, and if you do the right thing, you can become a member,” said Carlton, showing off one of the moves fraternity members used during the performance.
The boys also heard from Jeff Reed, who talked about business ownership; Randy Bush on the entertainment and promotions business; former NFL player Craphonso Thorpe, who autographed collectors cards from his playing days; and Leonard Jaswarski Newton talked about the consequences of making bad decision and how those bad decision negatively affected his life until he turned himself around.
Figgers said she was pleased that her boys learned a skill all men need to know.
“I was so happy they taught them how to tie a necktie,” she said. “I didn’t know how to do it, but they are growing up so fast and pretty soon that’s the kind of thing every man needs to know and I surely didn’t know how to teach them.”
Carlton said he had mastered the technique after a few tries and announced he was out of clip-on ties forever. Each participant was given a necktie to keep, which had been donated by community members.
The subtle message of caring for others came Saturday morning when Sandy Beck from St. Francis Wildlife rehabilitation center brought “The Wild Classroom” to life with owls and eagles. Still groggy from staying up most of the night, the boys listened as Beck told them what to do if they come upon a disabled wild animal and the characteristics of wild owls, barn owls and red tail hawks.
The inaugural event drew 95 registered participants.
“It was a good program; the kids liked it and the parents liked it,” Monroe said. “We’re already talking about doing it again next year and adding more things.”