RICHMOND, Va. -- Men, especially young men and boys, often have a harder time speaking about their mental health and getting the help they both need and deserve.
Ellery Lundy's nonprofit organization, Broken Men Foundation, is doing what they can to address this problem.
Their mentoring program for inner-city boys started eight years ago with three participants. Today, they're guiding nearly 70 boys ages 10 to 17 through a 16-week curriculum focusing on several life skills, including financial literacy, culinary skills and more.
"Law enforcement interaction, we do apprenticeships. Conflict resolution, mock interviews, resume building, academic skills, responsibility, accountability," Lundy said.
Lundy, a retired law enforcement officer of 25 years, said many of the kids have experienced trauma in their daily lives. To him, it is apparent that the pandemic has added another layer to what these young boys have already experienced.
He is hoping the community will step in. He is appealing to area mental health professionals to help them help these boys move past their pain by donating their services.
"It definitely was a lot of trauma because a lot of these young men lost fathers, lost loved ones and didn't know how to deal with it," Lundy said.
The nonprofit is planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the participants. The 16-week program culminates in June with a graduation and a highly anticipated bonding trip — a deep-sea fishing excursion to Virginia Beach.
"We go out and show them something different. It creates a bond so we take some of the young men to places they've never seen before, to see a new horizon," Lundy said.
Lundy said they are working to finance the fishing trip to cover the expenses which add up to around $7,500.
They are hoping the community will donate to help them make this trip a once-in-a-lifetime memory for a group of boys on a mission to find success in life.
"It's a bonding time, celebratory time of them finishing what they started," Lundy said.
You can make a tax-deductible contribution by visiting their website and clicking donate.