RICHMOND, Va. —When Ellery Lundy first started the Broken Men Foundation in 2014, his dream was to help young men with troubled past use their pain to make a positive impact on their community. Now, almost 500 graduates later, the foundation is able to continue this mission at new youth center in Richmond.
"We call this room dare to dream," Lundy said describing the dozens of college pennants on the wall. "We want these young folks to come in and take look and say oh my god North Carolina or Harvard."
Standing at the corner of Bainbridge Street and Cowardin Avenue, the new facility serves as a safe space for participants to cultivate their creativity.
"I use to have a space that was really small and I appreciated that," Lundy said.
Finally securing a new space, the young men and their mentors celebrated the grand opening of their new learning center at the end of January. "It was a humbling experience…out of body experience to see if you stayed the course and knowing that you stayed the course and how things will really look for you."
The new office is lined with motivational phrases, new computers and dozens of pictures.
"You have to believe and if you don't believe you need to be able to read it," said Lundy. "The enjoyment of seeing a kid eating pizza but also willing to learn," he said, describing the many smiling faces in the pictures.
Mentee Jayden Hughes said he's learned so much while apart of this program and is excited to be in the new facility.
"I learned how to do a proper handshake when meeting somebody," Hughes said. I asked him what he was most excited about and he said "the computers".
Lundy said the learning center is a space where young men can can come to have fun while also preparing for their future.
"If college is not for them, you know maybe a trade is for you, and if not a trade is not for you maybe entrepreneurship, whatever that looks like for them," he said.
Lundy said the facility will serve as a safe space for boys in the community.
"If they’re dealing with underlying issues, it's something at home or something is going on the school, if a kid is bullying them or something like that, they can come in and just lay it all on the line," he said.
With a mission to mend broken hearts, Lundy said he hopes the young men that come in, leave knowing they’re loved and not alone.
"I hope they leave with a sense of purpose, a sense of understand, a knowing that the destination that they have before them is greatness," he said.
With much of the equipment for the space donated, Lundy said transportation for the trips they take with the mentees is something the group still needs.
"If we trying to take a kid to Virginia Tech, UNC, different places like that, if we rent charter buses it’ll cost us anywhere $3,000-$400, maybe $5,000 to put these young men on buses," he said.
You can find more information about the foundation and how to donate on their website.