Members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. launched a service project to assist the young men at Woodland Hills Youth Detention Center on March 1. The facility, part of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, provides treatment programs for delinquent male youth aged 13-19.
Deemed Project: UPLIFT, the program is a service project involving five graduate chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.: Gamma Phi (Nashville), Pi Gamma Gamma (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Omega Lambda Lambda (Hendersonville, Tenn.), Psi Pi (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Theta Alpha Alpha (Bowling Green, Ky.). The program is three-fold consisting of group visits, one-to-one mentoring and support upon release from the facility.
This is the second collaborative service project between the chapters. The first is called The Riverbend Project consisting of quarterly visits to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville to conduct empowerment sessions for inmates serving long-term sentences. The fraternity has volunteered at Riverbend for the past nine years. During one of the visits, a conversation ensued about what the fraternity members could share with misguided youth to keep them from the same fate as the inmates in the maximum-security institution. Shortly afterwards the chapters decided to extend a similar type of service project to the young men at Woodland Hills.
“The major difference between the two programs is the time spent in lock up,” said Brother Rasheed Zaimah, coordinator of Project: UPLIFT and a member of the Murfreesboro graduate chapter. “We do group sessions and one-on-one mentoring with the men at Riverbend, but many of them will not see freedom for 30 or 40 years. Many of the young men at Woodland Hills will return to society after a short time and will need guidance to help them successfully transition back into society and the work place. They have their whole lives in front of them. The question is whether they will use the opportunity to be a productive citizen or return to a life of crime. Either way we are likely to see them again. If they want help and mentoring we can do that. If not, we will see them when we visit Riverbend,” he said.
The purpose of the March 1 visit was to establish rapport and to introduce Omega Psi Phi to the young men. Members of the fraternity gave short presentations on the History of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the four cardinal principles of the fraternity: manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. Another group visit is scheduled for June 2014. Members from the five chapters are being recruited to serve as mentors and will visit their mentees and the mentee’s counselor on a monthly basis. The young men will receive group and one-on-one assistance once released from the facility to help steer them in the right direction.