At the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend, Ford mentors encouraged and inspired the next generation of leaders.
By Benjamin Perry
It’s amazing the difference a few words can make. We all remember people who told us something that changed the course of our lives, whose words helped spark our dreams. At the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men this June, three Ford mentors worked to inspire a group of at-risk youths, sharing insights from their own lives to help the young men envision brighter futures for themselves and their families.
The 220 mentees were chosen because they showed incredible promise despite experiencing challenging cultural environments, such as fatherless homes. The program, which Ford sponsored, was set up to help these young men realize their potential and one day become leaders in their communities, says Raj Register, manager of Ford multicultural communications. “Overall, it’s a weekend full of positive messaging and encouragement.”
Earl Lucas, Lincoln Chief Designer, held a design-your-own-vehicle competition that encouraged participants to display their creativity and competitive spirit. Mike Simon, director of warranty operations for Ford Customer Service Division North American service engineering, judged the competition and also led a round-table discussion, during which he told the story of his youth and his career, showing that with hard work and tenacity anyone can succeed.
The third mentor representing Ford was Tony Gaskins, a motivational speaker and celebrity life coach featured in an upcoming Ford SUV digital campaign. “It was pretty intense,” says Gaskins, who normally works with high-profile clients such as members of the NBA, NFL and NCAA. As the young men at the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend revealed the difficulties in their lives, he says, there were “a lot of tears, a lot of hugs, a lot of heartfelt expressions of pain.” His top tip? He warned them against trying to fit in, “because when you fit in you end up being left out.” He advised them to embrace their own paths.
While the young men participated in these sessions, the organizers arranged a separate program for their mothers, designed to help them navigate the challenges of raising boys as a single parent. In addition to discussions about parenting, Ford’s Warriors in Pink program also provided information about breast cancer awareness.
Gaskins says working with the future leaders was incredibly rewarding: “There’s no greater feeling than being able to give back.”