Celebrating 25 Years of “Bringing Everybody Together”

“Thank you Richard for Bringing Everybody Together. I thank you so much for allowing me to be  a part of this journey. Mentoring these children has changed my life, and has helped me to find the  thing that I want to do for the rest of my life.”

— Motivational Coach & Keynote Speaker, Michelle Snow

There is a nomenclature among most media outlets: “If it  bleeds, it leads.” This horrific posture among journalists and  reporters has literally “bled” into our public policies and  qualifications for government grants and support systems.  While speaking with Mr. Richard Washington, Founder of  “Bringing Everybody Together”, I wept tears of joy as he  shared his organizations’ victories. On the other hand, his  

Non-profit organization’s challenges in securing funding was  heart wrenching. To embrace the fact that “Bet” does not  receive as much financial consideration as other groups,  because “Mr. Wash’s” work creates a “safe space”, within the  Logan area, that eliminates “death among youth”, is mind  boggling. What a paradigm! During a year of great loss,  uncertainty and questionable relationship—Richard Washington and “MyBetFamily” offers rainbows, stars,  bright lights and unity. While many entities are bickering,  Mr. Wash (as he is affectionately known) is always busy  confronting the issues head-on with creative solutions. Having had more than thirty years of experience in  mediation between: students and teachers; students versus students; youth and law enforcement; resolutions with  community leaders, schools, organizations and youth; his  expertise and success is simple—he has an organic and  genuinely sincere heart to serve! 

Diversity is a popular term of late, however, as you’ll see,  Mr. Wash has been facilitating services to the Logan  Community, Philadelphia Public Schools and many  organizations in Philadelphia and surrounding areas for  almost three decades. We spent some time speaking with  Richard Washington, to understand how he arrived at this  awesome place of community service. Also, we were curious  as to how we could support his efforts and see if we could  also help raise awareness of “Bet” and their many  accomplishments.  

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

Okay. We have Mr. Richard Washington, of “My Bet Family”. It is so nice to hear from you today. Thank you for spending  time with “Noire Life Magazine”. That translates into “Black”  Life Magazine.  

We recognize that you work with a lot of our youth that are  inside neighborhoods and areas that may be considered to  be “highly at-risk for crime” and/or health risks. Your  leadership and work under the umbrella of “My Bet Family”  helps to eliminate some of those risks. I can attest to that  firsthand, and from a personal standpoint; you currently  help, and have helped to eliminate a lot of risks with many  children, including a few of my own. 

Your organization and the services provided by you and your  staff, balances the playing field, in being a single parent and  having to try to navigate through some things that, “at risk  youths” and inner-city families, experience. The increase of  broken homes, both parents having to work in most cases,  and also technological advancements, are providing  exposure among youths, within the new millennium, to a lot  of different areas, that we did not have to deal with before the surge of access to the Worldwide web on handheld and  computerized electronic devices.  

QUESTION: 

In the midst of many technological advancements and  opportunities, what made you choose children, youth and  such a “hands-on” form of Community helps? What made  you have such a heart to reach out to so many families and  do so much? What is your driver? 

ANSWER: 

You know, I think the driver for me must be a spiritual thing.  Because, if you asked Richard, “the man”, I would say I’m  clueless. But the passion to serve, really comes from having a  spiritual background embedded in me at a young age,  growing up in the church and going to camp once a year.  If I may use the song Jingle Bells, in the form of an acronym,  to describe My Bet Family’s purpose. “Jingle” is for J o Y! This  must surely mean “Jesus” First, “Yourself last, and “Others” in  between. Although, B e t stands for–Bringing Everybody  Together, it’s not a Christian organization itself. It is founded  upon Christian principles though. And, we really do our best  to operate in that way. If I was a singer, I would sing it, but  you may call 911 on me (Laughter). 

My favorite scripture verse is: “be kind, one to another,  tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God has  forgiven us” (Ephesians 4:32). This is the way I conduct  business and I try to operate in my personal life as well.  In terms of how “the doing” came about, it was all very unintentional. The program itself and serving community  came about because, I was, literally, just checking up on my  little cousins when they were at school; and I found myself  helping out other children as well. Honestly, it just catapulted  from there. The guys that we used to play basketball, kickball,  and everything else with, when we were growing up, all of us  called each other “brothers”. Even at that young school age,  one of them used to call me “Pop”. I couldn’t understand,  when, at that time, he was only about four years younger  than I was. But still, he called me, “Dad and Pop”. Then, uh,  eventually, they began calling me, affectionately, “Uncle”,  and things like “My G”. I was only about 18 or 19 years old at  the time. As I got older and started doing community work,  you know, those things didn’t change. Those titles happened  to just hang around in the neighborhood, and among other  people that kind of joined; what I like to welcome them as, and call them, “the extended family”. 

Question: 

Beautiful! This is a natural “Gifting” for you? This is your gift  and your purpose? 

ANSWER: 

Yes, yes. That’s why I said, “it just happened”! 

QUESTION: 

About how many children would you say you serve now?  And, about how many students or children would you say  you’ve serviced over the years? 

ANSWER: 

Wow, if I use the words of one of my friends and colleagues,  she says, whenever introducing me, “he has served over 100  thousand children!” I used to laugh and say, “Oh, she got to 

be kidding! Maybe she’s just trying to make me sound good,”  and I would laugh. Because, I really don’t think of it that way.  But then, I guess, the reality of it is, when I think of: all the 

schools that I’ve worked in, all the community organizations  that I have served, within the neighborhood and church  fellowship, I guess there is a lot of truth to that. “MyBETFamily” Trip to Fort Mifflin Air Force Base 2010 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

Yeah, that’s true. In fact, we met at a school, remember?  There were a lot of children who looked up to you. Actually,  my son was one of them. He had entered that school  because children in his class were threatening him, because  the teacher used him as an example of being good.  Ironically, in an attempt to defend himself, he ended up  being placed in another school. But, you know, as it goes,  things have a way of working out for our good. Had that not  happened, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and  would not have you in our lives. I remember going to that  school to volunteer and make sure that my son did not get  lost in the shuffle. Also, to protect him from being picked on  even more. I went directly to the principal, expressed my  concerns, and he said, “Okay, we’re going to put your son in  Wash’s class!” I asked, “whose Wash?” Shortly, he  introduced me, and immediately, my mind was at ease. I sat  in on some classes and it was a great experience.  

I have to agree with that person who described you as  having served over 100 thousand children. I would have to  say you’ve helped, 100’s of thousands of children, at least!  There was not one student that didn’t want to be on your  team! I can say that because, for good measure, I  volunteered there for a few months. There was not one  student that I met, who didn’t appreciate the influence and  guidance that you gave them while you were working there.  Since meeting you fifteen years ago, it’s like that, in every  place you serve, all over the city of Philadelphia, across the  board, you are loved and respected. 

ANSWER: 

Well, I definitely appreciate that. And it’s funny. If you had  not mentioned that at this moment, I probably wouldn’t  have realized that that’s where we had met. I think, in part, because we’re connected, like family. I still engage with many  of the staff from that school; and students who still reach out  to me and “My Bet Family” for support and help. We see  them all over the place. Many of our students that came  through that program, lived within my community. You know,  the kids that made mistakes, were sent to the school where I  worked. That’s why, half of the time, I don’t remember  whether I met them in the educational community or in the  neighborhood, on the basketball court or at the Fellowship  Farm. A lot of times I remember their spirit, their goals,  hurdles, challenges and accomplishments, more than our  point of initial contact. I just know that we will do whatever  we can to help them to move forward. Had you not  mentioned how I had met your son I probably would not have  even realized that. He was a very mild-mannered young man.  Of course, he wasn’t an angel, but he was a relatively good  kid. Especially compared to many that I’ve had to deal with. 

“MyBETFamily” Trip to Fort Mifflin Air Force Base 2010

COMMENT/QUESTION 

Thank you so much. Bearing in mind your experience at these  different schools, neighborhood organizations, and  community groups, can you give us a General idea of where  your start was, in terms of education; and some of the roles  that you played throughout your career? Where has that  brought you to today and what are doing now? 

ANSWER: 

Sure, I’ll try to give it to you as quickly as I can. It’s a long road  of history, fueled with passion. So, I’m gonna give you the  quick portion of it. I went to George Washington High School. While there, I  served on the Human Relations Council. Being a part of that  council, I participated in a program called, “Adventures in  Harmony” at Fellowship Farm, which is Pottstown. 

Fellowship Farm is a place that a lot of schools went to for  diversity, leadership, and team building. Before graduating  High School, I was asked by Fellowship Farm to work for  them. Working at the facility in Pottstown is where I begin to lead workshops in those same areas and more. Many of the  students that came to solicit farm work were from  Philadelphia, although the farm itself was located in  Pottstown. 

Since I lived in Philadelphia at that time, when schools and  other community organizations would come to do  Leadership Camps, and “keep kids safe” programs throughout the summer months; camp events like that grew  us to be like family. When I would see camp members in  Philadelphia, I stayed connected with them, the  organizations and the schools.  

When I mentioned earlier about checking on my cousin’s, I  was in my first year at Temple University. I would go to their  school occasionally, to make sure they were behaving, and  doing what they were supposed to do. Then, the teachers  there found out that I was doing workshops at places like  Fellowship Farm, and asked me if I could begin to speak to  their classes. From that point on, I begin to speak not just at  Fellowship Farms, but in other schools.  

After working there for years doing programs also for adults,  leadership, diversity and harmony, I was asked to become  the first male educator at “Women Organized Against  Rape”. At first, I wasn’t going to do it because it didn’t sound  right to me. A man to work for “Women Organized Against  Rape”? That’s being real! They said, “yes, we just need  someone who is willing, can teach, can educate and get the  message across. Also, since men need to be aware of it too,  they thought it might be good to have a man. At the time, I was still looking for a full-time job. And, I do love training, So  I said, “Alright, I’ll give it a shot”. It was a wonderful  opportunity and experience. Helping WOAR develop a  number of programs, then, throughout my experiences with  WOAR, I was in and out of probably almost every public  school in the city, doing workshops. 

Later on, I became a father. And at that point, I wanted to  work for myself so that I could watch my daughter grow up  and spend time with her, in her early years. That’s when I  started my own training business. I would do contract work,  go into schools and community organizations working to do  leadership and team building.  

Also, my team development included peer mediation and  violence prevention. That’s how I got connected with C.E.P. I  wasn’t really thinking about being an administrator or educator. I went there to get a contract because I knew it  was a school that needed some help with young people who  were “at risk” and had some social ills. I went to get a  contract to do workshops.

 

 

 

Somehow, the principal talked me into becoming a teacher,  okay? I ended up at C E. P. and I was there for over 15 years!  That included being a “Team Leader” and helping to restore  their school in South Carolina and also Pittsburgh.  

Photo from “MyBetFamily” Trips to Fort Mifflin 

Meeting students there, and anywhere I went, those  students became a part of “My Bet Family” as well. I always  connect with the parents too, not just the Children. You can  work with just the students sometimes, if the students have  that drive, or if you are able to motivate them. But I believe in communicating with the entire immediate family. When  students leave the school, they have to go home. That’s why,  like yourself and most of my students, we always remain  connected, becoming a part of an extended family. Before C.  E. P., “My Bet Family” had already started in Logan  Elementary School, where my cousins attended. After leading  a couple of workshops and then telling my cousins and the  teachers, “I can’t keep coming to school while going to  Temple College”. It got tough at Temple, and they said, “Well,  can you at least come once a week?” So, it became a Friday  afternoon ‘After School” program that we called the B E T,  meaning–Bringing Everybody Together. Over 25 years later,  we’re still here, with the: Chess Club, Choir, Youth Council  (that is extremely active), a girls’ and boys’ mentorship and  basketball program, plus a few other services. That’s kind of  the story line behind where I am today and what I do.  After leaving C.E.P., I did work for myself again, and “Bet” is  strictly volunteer. To generate more income, I figured I would  go back and run training for all businesses. Then a couple of  years later, going back to Logan School to help out the  Principal, she talked me into becoming their Community  School Coordinator; through the mayor’s office. Then I  started working full-time for two years. When the Climate  Manager Administrative position opened up at the school, I  became their Client Manager. The person who took my place,  working for the city as Community School Coordinator, was a teacher that had worked with me at C. E. P. School. Ms.  Butler was asked to come on board because I knew that she  certainly believed in extended family, and community as  well. We have now linked back up to do the same type of  things in the local community, together and at Logan  Elementary School. 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

That’s beautiful, and very impressive. It’s really so much  more than a story. It’s a blessed reality for all of us who have  benefitted from your diligence and generosity. Many times,  it is said that, “it takes a village to raise children”. People often throw these words around. I know for a fact, that is  something I’ve even seen your mother, yourself, your staff  and family put into action. It’s just amazing! 

Right down to your daughter’s participation in the  organization. I remember being so impressed with her. You  were having a fundraiser at a restaurant and invited some  friends to come out and support. When we arrived, your “little lady” came out, very politely, greeted, and seated us.  It was my first-time meeting, 9-year-old, “Little Ms.  Washington”. We were served with much excellence and  poise. 

I said, “Wow, what an awesome example of family and  community efforts! Here, we see a father, who is actually  taking the lead, pouring into the community, and also  focusing on his own daughter and family. It is far too  common, in ministry and politics, that we witness neglect or  vain pursuits, taking precedence over family.  

“Richard Washington’s balance and sincere service to  community, church and family, is an excellent model of  “uplifting the village”’. – Uptown Mary 

Watching Mr. Washington bring to life, the original purpose  of the “Police Athletic League”, within this current climate of  police brutality and blatant racism, is also a phenomenon.  

Many may not be aware of P.A.L.’s initial inception in North  Philadelphia, and its cooperative relationship with “The  Black Panther PARTY.” According to Wikipedia, the first  Police Athletic League (PAL), formed in North Philadelphia in  1947, was “to build positive relationships between youth,  the communities in which they live, and the dedicated men  and women of the Philadelphia Police Department.”  

Since its inception, the organization has provided  neighborhood youth with a sanctuary from the criminal  activities that have plagued major urban areas. Richard  Washington, using wise counsel, walked in the footsteps of  those who have been charged with the burden of keeping the peace, in the past. Like unto great leaders and groups  who have made a noteworthy difference with youth and  inner-city challenges, he used what has worked before.  

An off-duty officer talks with teenagers at a Police Athletic League  center in 1971. Locally, PAL formed in 1947 to build relationships  between youth, their communities, and the Philadelphia Police  Department. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries) 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

For you, Richard, Community Service organically intertwines  with your genuine love for education, people and family. I  just want to put that out there because I saw it with my own  eyes. If left up to any of the many families and communities  that you’ve helped, we’d easily shower you with many  honors.  

I want to talk more about how the community, its leaders,  parents, other groups and organizations can get more  involved in supporting your efforts and current community  affairs? How is your program structured now? And, what do  you guys need in terms of help to see that you continue to  grow, do what you’re doing, and move forward? 

ANSWER: That’s a good question!  

Sometimes, I think, we’re so busy “doing what needs to be  done, by any means necessary”, that we’ve just happened  upon help, or very creatively made a way.  

“MyBetFamily” vs 35th District Police Officers Basketball Game 

We operate based on the needs of our children and families’  requests. I mean, we do think, in terms of five years or ten  years planning, and where we might want to be. But  because things in our society change so much, with extreme  uncertainty, we truly do operate under the “current needs  premise”. We’re all committed volunteers.  

We do have a 501c3, so people can always donate support,  whether it’s, through PayPal or credit cards for our  website–which is http://www.mybetfamily.com .  

If you haven’t noticed, we say, “MY” Bet Family, because it’s  your family, too!

Our Cash App is $MyBetFamily and people  can always support financially, through Cash App. 

However, one of the challenges is that although we put it out  there, “giving to our organization, really doesn’t happen  much”.  

I think that’s because, #1) we don’t ask a lot. You know, they  say, if you don’t ask, you don’t receive, lol. #2) We’re doers in  an atmosphere of highly critical demands. And, #3) I think  our mindset has been more focused on the communities’  needs rather than creating a budget for profitability.  

Members of Black Panther Party distribute free lunches, August 17,  1971. (Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Temple University Libraries,  Special Collections Research Center. )

“For us, the budget kind of happens…We do a million works  with a few dollars budget….and an all-volunteer staff.” –Richard Washington  

We can always use financial help or means to help make  things easier in the work that we do. A 15-passenger vehicle  would help us to deliver food, transport children and serve  the elderly; instead of having to use our own personal  vehicles; which is not always the greatest thing to do in a  COVID-19 environment. But that’s all we have right now.  

We are trying to find a company or person that may donate a  15-passenger van or two. Many times, when we’re taking  more than 12 kids to an activity, we have had to rent a small  bus. We need to get a CDL, licensed driver so that more  children, and some parents, can be exposed to and  participate in the many positive things that we do.  

One of the kids asked me, “Mr. Washington, how come all  these people, every time we turn around, are getting money  from sports and stuff, but I don’t see them donating money  to agencies here, like yours, or see them giving anything to  our neighborhood?” 

There’s not a whole lot of crime in the area within the four  or five block radius all around us because we all take care of  each other. This can cause some supporters to think we  don’t need it. Our due diligence has made it hard, at times, to get  anything. I said to the young man, “you know, that’s  interesting, and there is a lot of truth within that question”.  

On a Corporate Level, “The United Way” supports  “MyBetFamily” and their annual  event and programs. United Way  of Greater Philadelphia’s and Southern New Jersey’s  Mission is to: “…reduce poverty and expand opportunity for  all. We fund nonprofit organizations and create bold  solutions that break the cycle of poverty. The kind of  poverty that traps families for generations.” 

http://www.unitedforimpact.org 

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“MyBetFamily” Fun and Comradery at Fort Mifflin Air Force Base 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

Would you say that it’s your observation that organizations  that are larger or with less volume in critical needs, may  have more time to access budgeting and fundraising? 

ANSWER: 

Definitely, in our Grassroots efforts, we spend a lot of time  and energy in the “prevention mode”. Therefore, at times,  we don’t get the resources to operate, simply because, our groundwork saves lives and nobody’s been killed within that  four-block radius, lately. Nobody’s been doing a whole lot of  vandalism, nobody! But that’s because right before it  happens, we’re in the street, reprimanding with presence and  words like, “You, slow down! Yeah. What are you doing?  Don’t do that! That’s how we take care of you!” We take care  of each other, but we still need that financial support.  

On top of funding and transportation needs, we are currently  looking for someone who is good at managing funding and  financial growth. Receiving a certain level of support, then  puts you in a different tax bracket and requires appropriate  management. So, we also want to make sure that we have  someone that we can trust, who knows what they’re doing– who can help to manage it when we do reach that level.  

In the meantime, it doesn’t stop any of our programs. We call  ourselves a seven-day-a-week program. If we have an event  on Sunday afternoon, there’s a chance that if you need a  ride, we will be picking you up early.  

Look, I’m a drummer at church. And, well, if you need a ride  from me, you might be going to church that day. Then, after  church, we’ll get to the afternoon’s event. If you don’t need a  ride, then I’ll meet you at the basketball game.  

On Saturdays, if there’s another community event that we  can support, we’re going! That’s how we are every day,  including Monday through Fridays.  

A parent can call me at 11 o’clock at night and if I can help  out, I will. If I have to make calls to others, because their child  is either struggling academically or they may have some sort  of suicidal thoughts, and in need of someone to talk to;  whatever the case may be, I’m there! Or, maybe the parent  needs help themselves. They can call me or one of the other  adults in our program. Like you mentioned earlier, my mother  is available, on call, to help. That goes right back to that  extended family piece that we’ve been emphasizing. We  don’t run on scheduled hours. My Bet Family is available and  functioning based on the needs of our community. We run  according to the amount of support that is required. 

At the same time, although we’re supporting others, there  are those times that we need a hand, too. We may need a  shoulder to lean on, or to have a conversation with someone  as well.  

COMMENT/QUESTION:

I agree. That’s why when I thought of people that could use: more exposure, more support, more love and more  understanding, I thought about “My Bet Family”

I imagine  that, if people saw this as an example, it could help the next  community over, or the next social organization’s leadership,  seeing this type of model; to see what works. What you do  provides an excellent example. If I was to add anything to your name, I would call you my “angels and family”. There’s  an almost angelic factor that comes to the surface  throughout your organization’s work–a selfless, true love  and provision for the community.  

“Bet” should be appreciated and definitely celebrated. More  people should know about you and experience the intrinsic  benefits of participating. Hearing a youth testify, “Going to  the Whitehouse was the best part of being in “Bet”, it  changed my life!” was surreal. Knowing that my daughter  contributed to that experience during her tenure at The  Whitehouse, was touching. Your example of leadership  could be gleaned from, in other areas of the city and with  more people if they only knew.  

We are a witness to your value and are going to put it out  there as best we can. In doing so, I wanted to ask about your  Community’s Outreach and relationships that you’ve built  with other organizations.  

Earlier you talked about the community being settled in a  particular radius of Logan Elementary. Understanding that,  as far as you can reach, within the Logan area, you’re  impacting lives. I am aware of some type of interaction with  PAL (Police Athletic Leagues). In this current climate, where  there’s so much going on with Black Lives Matter protests  due to police brutality; some good people and some bad  people on both sides, how do you feel? How has the  occurrence of this issue, coupled with a Worldwide  pandemic affected your organization’s tasks and how you  have opted to carry them out amidst so much dramatic  change?  

ANSWER: 

It certainly has affected us and the way that we do things. As  well, there have been some benefits throughout these  events. At “Bet” we try to look at everything with a positive  mindset. We teach that everything is an opportunity to  grow. Even if you have some setbacks, you know, it’s a part  of life. What do you do to move forward? I’ll begin with, as  you mentioned, PAL. This is one of a few partnerships with  “Bet”, and many PAL centers are associated with, and  began in churches. So, not only do we have established  relationships with those PAL Centers, we made sure to have  relationships with those churches. In the event when PAL  Centers are closed, if we need to use the facility, we may be  offered those opportunities. Not being able to do what they  normally would do, certainly hurts. In fact, in my immediate  area, we don’t have a Police Athletic League, per se, on this  side of Logan. 

Our kids, on this side of Logan, still find ways to safely use  the schoolyard, and to do different things. Our basketball  courts are down due to COVID, and rightfully so, because sometimes it gets a little too crowded over there. I kind of  wanted them up, because our kids need to be active. Some of  our kids are struggling. Those who would normally resort to  sports, maybe resorting to other things. We need those  activities out there. However, having those relationships with  PAL, the churches in the area, Stenton Museum and Public  Libraries, any resources or events that they may have—in  light of this new climate, they then become part of the “Bet”  family. We try to make sure that our families and children are  made aware of those events, as well. That helps.  

The “4” things that we really try to focus on, as I often come  up with these sayings and acronyms—are 4E’s. This is the first  time being said, so you get a chance to hear it first. I’m going  to say: #1) Extended family, because you heard me talking  about that a lot. Even you mentioned the village. It is so true.  Once you meet us, you are a part of the family whether you  like it or not. That just goes without saying. Then, #2) is  Education. Whether I had become a teacher or not, didn’t  matter. I’ve always been focused on education. That is why I  was going to the school to check on my cousins in the first  place, to make sure that they were doing what they were  supposed to do, pertaining to their education. Then, #3) is  Exposure. Exposure to all kinds of culture, art, sports, history  and knowledge is really important. You know, we have to  make sure that we teach our children that there are other  progressive opportunities out there.  

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MyBetFamily/FAMILY) Jerame (God-son,
pictured rear, left), Kisha (Richard Washington’s
Sister, rear, right), (Little) Jhayda Washington (front, center)

Speaking of positivity, the one thing that COVID did, was to  offer a unique alternative to our kids in the city who love  basketball and football, more than anything else. Well,  because the rims at the basketball courts were down, it  afforded me an opportunity to say, you know what? 

You got a mask? Then meet me. We’ll go to a tennis court.  We’ll spread out and you can start learning some tennis. Now, we have a number of kids who are learning and have  developed an interest in tennis! I even had somebody who  just donated three rackets. We’ll need even more rackets  when Springtime rolls around. Once kids are being exposed  to new things, they want to do it. That would not have  happened if it weren’t for COVID.  

Our parents are more involved in their children’s education.  Even though it’s a struggle, because it’s virtual, we’ve been  able to connect with our parents more in the schools. In  terms of community, they’re struggling; getting their kids  online or needing educational resources or computers.  Whether it’s from the school, “Bet” or from one of our  partners, we’re able to communicate with our parents and  help however we can.  

Ironically, it forces some of our parents to do a little bit  more than usual. They may have a little more stress but  being online has certainly helped, with parental involvement  in school work.  

Which takes me to that final “E”, #4) which is Empowerment. To all of our young people and all of our  parents, our intentional focus is to give them the services  and support that make them feel empowered to move to the next level in their own lives; helping their families  themselves. We realize that their own sense of  empowerment is important because “Bet”, Richard  Washington, Mary Muse or Granny Wash, may not always  be around. So, the quest to provide answers to: how do we  teach? How do we direct? How do we empower them to do  better? Because, unfortunately, tomorrow is not promised  to any of us. But, if we can give you the school, the skills and  tools necessary to move forward, then we feel like we’ve  done our job. Extended family, Education, Exposure and  Empowerment are my new “4E’s”, heard first by Ms. Muse. 

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Radio Personality, Dezzie (left), “Mom Wash” (center),
Delicsha Brown (right, Early years, “Bet” Advisory Board Member
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Jhayda Washington singing at DHS Community Event 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

Thank you so much for sharing that. If I may add, one more  point. I sat in on one of your Saturday Zoom events, where  you have a few of the youths moderate and host! Again, their  expertise, self-confidence, delivery, line of questioning, and  everything about their presentation spoke “outstanding” to  me. You may want to consider having “5E’s”—one more, for  Excellence! Excellence has to go in there somehow, some  way! It is amazing!  

One young lady was working at her place of employment  while on the Zoom. She requested permission to participate  for a brief moment, explained, and then excused herself. She  entered the call like this: “Well, I’m at work and may have to  excuse myself, but I’ll remain on the call as long as I can.”  When it was time for her to leave, another young man  stepped up saying, “I’ll take over, I got you.” I would say this  young man was around 12 years old. 

ANSWER: Yep! He’s 13.  

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

I figured as much. He looked like his briefcase, car keys and  degrees (with an “s”) should have been on the wall. And, it  was not in the clothing that he was wearing. Whatever his attire, whether he had on a white shirt and jeans, a jacket or  no jacket, when he enters a room, he can command its space.  I can’t help but to attribute some of that to his exposure to  “My Bet Family”, and I just love it!  

Last year, while at another event, where I was working with  my son, catering as MaDookz (my Catering/Food Service  Business), I saw a familiar face. I asked, “Do I know you from  somewhere? Do you sing?” “Not that you would not want to  hear?” she stated with a bright smile.

A few minutes later, I observed the young lady making  conversation with my son (the same son that we spoke of  earlier—who you had mentored at that school). So, I asked  my son, “how do you know this young woman?” She replied,  “we both were mentored by the same person, Mr. Richard  Washington.” Michele Snow of “Grow with Snow”. This  successful Entrepreneurial Development Firm (see her  online @growwithsnow.com), was also mentored by “My  Bet Family”. Then I remembered, “That’s where I know you  from!” I remember her having the same type of poise and  personality the first time she had taken the microphone at a  “Bet” event. Look at this! Michelle Snow!  

I’ve seen the results, and that’s why I’m always so excited to  hear, talk about, or to do anything with your organization. It  gives me so much vivacity to see the life that you all extend  to our community and within our children.  

Just one last question. If there was anything that you would  like to say to the Noire Life audience about your organization, anything you’d like to say at all?  

ANSWER: 

Sure, I guess the first thing I would say, which really doesn’t  have as much to do with supporting the organization, as it  has to do with supporting families, young people, and the  state that we’re in, that is—”be the example that we want  our Children to be”. I know we all grew up with sayings like,  “Do as I say, not as I do”, and things like that. We need to  grow beyond that mentality and be the model. So, the best  thing you can do for “B e t”; the best thing you can do for  our children; for yourself, your family, and myself; is to  model the behavior and the things that our children need to  see. There’s so much that they have to battle against. They  don’t need the query of trying to figure out whether or not  they should follow us. The second piece is, I know we talked  about a lot of mental health and how serious it is. Regarding  spiritual health, find some type of Spiritual Health Source. If  you’re not already involved in a spiritual health organization,  church or whatever, find something.  

If we don’t have anything that we can look forward to, that  can be problematic. When things are not going so well, if  we’re not grounded spiritually, and we don’t have that  strong foundation, we’re in trouble. That would be my first  challenge in the way of supporting us. The more that we do  as a community/family, outside of a program, the less we  have need for programs like ours. Then we can evolve  into a program where we’re just doing fun activities and  being a resource for interesting things to do. Right now,  we’re being the big brothers and big sisters, which we’ll  always be, but hopefully with different purposes.  

Again, I’m not the kind of person who asks for much. So, I’m  going to say this. If you can support us, if you’re willing to  support “My Bet Family”, go to http://www.mybetfamily.com or  Cash App us at $mybetfamily and put the program that it’s  being given for: whether it’s for “Bet” Talks (which is the  name of that TV show); or the Green Show (which is every  Saturday). Our “Bet” Kids are sure to announce, during their  program, that the proceeds are received by them. Whenever  we get donations for “Bet” Talk, we give that to the children  because the program was initiated as employment  opportunities for them. No one was responding to our job  searches for the kids, so we found ways of giving them  something to do, and asked the viewers to donate. We truly  appreciate your support and encouragement. 

COMMENT/QUESTION: 

Everybody has their cross to bear. And that’s your cross.  You’re like, I don’t have time to stop and ask. This needs to be  done. Let’s get it done. And, that’s not easy.  

My hope and prayer for you is that everyone returns the love  that they have received from this awesome organization, and  pours back into “OurBetFamily”. Not forgetting where you  come from is a simple Noire Life principal. You are a God-send  to many families, mine included. So, I appreciate you, this  interview and your time. 

ANSWER: 

Thank you very much. You are certainly appreciated as well.  See us on Fox 29 News. Click the Link: https://www.fox29.com/video/660229?fbclid=IwAR2l2l8IAd wZVLXo5E7hqgoX2r0TXHEekHPQL4NGlhKNb09cH8nWr G8Wd9c 

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