‘They’re our future’: Two friends launch a cutting-edge mentoring program in Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The dream of two friends became a reality Tuesday as a bus pulled up to the Malone Community Center.
The MIND Program brought four young boys on board for a free haircut and a safe place to talk.
“We wanted to bring barbering and counseling together,” said KB Mensah, one of the co-developers. “We wanted to really help these youth succeed in life.”
The program, called Mentoring in New Dimensions, is the work of Mensah, a barber, and Lawrence Chatters, a mental health practitioner.
They lead an organization called Visionary Youth, which serves minority youth and families in Lincoln.
With support from the people of Lincoln, the two were able to put together a mobile barbershop that combines their two professions into one way to give back to the community.
Mensah said barbering has always been more than a job for him.
“I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and the love I have for it is undeniable,” he said. “It’s something that you cannot even explain.”
The program helps young minority boys who come from low-income families.
They can get a free haircut of their choice.
But perhaps more importantly, it gives them a place to talk about anything going on in their life.
Each of the barbers came from a similar background, so they can relate to the boys.
“It’s so important because they’re our future, and I want our future to be bright,” Mensah said. “If we can come and help out the youth and make it easier, accessible and just be ready to inspire them, then that’s what we’re willing to do at Visionary Youth.”
One of the first boys to sit in the barber’s chair was 9-year-old Tony Madkin.
He talked with Mensah as he got his hair cut about his favorite things in school, which were math and physical education.
“They want to be nice to the community and help people that go to the Malone Center and help kids in the community and help give them haircuts and help them do good,” Madkin said. “It feels good to just sit here and talk.”
Chatters said the launch of the program is hopefully just the beginning of helping thousands of boys in the Lincoln area.
“I can’t even describe the feeling to you,” Chatters said. “It actually makes me quite emotional because of the support from the Lincoln community. They’ll feel more confident in themselves, and when children’s confidence rises, so do their grades, so do their interactions, their ability to really just be who they are.”