On April 12, 1998, I was approached by a young man named Christopher Pitts. He asked if there was something I could do that would be positive in the community for youth. I realized that there were many other people he could have approached, but he chose me. It was also clear that I was being challenged.
As a result, I had the desire to coordinate a Men’s Fellowship service at the Mt. Zion Pentecostal Holy Church in Brooklyn, New York, that would include activities geared to support the youth in the community. This service was scheduled for the Third Sunday in June. After reading a passage of scripture found in the Acts of the Apostles 3:6, “Then Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” I realized this would be the theme for the conference.
An appeal was made to various persons in the community to help organize a community solidarity march, basketball tournament, health fair, home ownership workshop, and a gospel concert featuring Charlie Storey and His Allstars, the Mt. Zion Choir, and other community singers. This proved to be fruitful and continued to grow.
In 2001, Rise Up & Walk partnered with P.S. 304 and Principal Connie Howard, an elementary school I attended many years ago, to start an afterschool mentoring program that targeted males 5-11 years old. The program enrolled 110 students that received homework help and recreational and enrichment services.
Additionally, we successfully engaged older males 18 and up to participate in what we called “indoor evening recreation.” The purpose was to provide a recreational outlet in the evening: indoors and safe for males in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. As a result, M-F 6 pm-8:30 pm, more than 3500 males were safe and enjoyed a chance to play basketball, a favorite pastime sport for many.
Since 1998 to the present, Rise Up & Walk has served more than 106,000 New York City Community children and families via Basketball Tournaments, Afterschool programming, Summer Camp, Mentoring, and Community Service projects.
It is clear to me, what one has within, when used for the good of others, can cause many to want to Rise Up and Walk into the God-given destiny they are created to experience. Helping our youth to achieve academic excellence, develop strong relationships that last a lifetime, interact with positive adult role models, and enjoy the process of development, keeps me looking for just one more.
For the past 25 years, I have continued to serve as the Founder & CEO of Rise Up & Walk Youth Outreach Center Inc. The organization has weathered the storm and maintained its course by keeping the inspirational scripture in view; “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6