FLINT, Michigan — The value of mentorship is priceless and Kendall Williams is determined to ensure the youth in Flint have access to great mentors. Williams is a program coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint
and he recently developed a program that helps groups of teenagers learn what is going on in the city in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. He believes in highlighting the leaders of the community.
On Tuesday, May 2, Williams brought his group of seven young men to meet Lee Grant Allen, co-owner of BAU-HŌUSE
, a store that hosts exclusive streetwear, sneakers, and art exhibits from artists around the Midwest.
“I knew he [Lee] had a lot to share,” said Williams. “Coming from this city isn’t a small feat. And being able to do what he’s done and put in what he’s put in here. I just wanted to put that on display for my guys. My team of boys see that if he can do it, it is possible.”
A few teens from the Boys & Girls Club check out streetwear on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at BAU-HOUSE in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside)
Allen welcomed the young men into the lower level of BAU-HŌUSE and let them check out some of the latest items in streetwear. After a few minutes of checking out the space, the group made their way upstairs. The second story of BAU-HŌUSE is a beautiful open space that is used for collaboration with local artists and events.
Williams’ group smiled and looked out the second-story window overlooking downtown in awe. Allen invited the group to take a seat and began sharing his personal story and journey as a local business entrepreneur. “The whole point of this space is to try and link people up, find mentors, and figure out what you’re passionate about,” said Allen.
A few young men from the Boys & Girls Club smile and look out of the second-story window on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at BAU-HOUSE in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside)
“I was born and raised in Flint. I went to elementary school here, junior high, high school, graduated college here, and got my master's all right here in the city,” said Allen. He continued sharing his personal journey and the importance that he learned in the value of his skin color, his upbringing, and finding his self-worth.
Allen’s journey was shared authentically as the group of young men listened to an oral narrative that gave examples, direction, and a charge to find and chase after personal dreams and visions. Even if no one understands your vision, “It’s your vision, it’s not meant for others to understand,” Allen said.
Three young men from the Boys & Girls Club sit and listen to co-owner Allen as he shares his personal journey on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at BAU-HOUSE in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside)
The group was reminded that it’s okay to not have all the answers and everything figured out, but what is important is to have goals, be self-motivated, and remember to do the work. “If people don't understand what you’re trying to do, that’s all right, ‘cause God gave you that vision. So you just bring it to life.”
Three young men from the Boys & Girls Club sit and listen to co-owner Lee Grant Allen share his personal journey on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at BAU-HOUSE in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside)
Allen ended the meeting by asking the young men to ask any questions. The groups shared their current hurdles and fears with Allen and Williams. Each young man vulnerably explained their dreams of becoming small business owners, a personal trainer, and one young man shared his hopes of owning a streetwear and sneaker store of his own one day. After the discussion group ended, Williams then took the group out to dinner to celebrate the evening.
Co-owner Lee Grant Allen and Boys & Girls Club program coordinator Kendall Williams pose for a photo on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at BAU-HOUSE in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside)
Williams is determined to see the seeds he is planting grow. “I want more leaves, meaning more kids from Flint, seeing that it can happen here or wherever. Being from here doesn’t have to be demeaning because of what the media thinks and says about this city. I think this city has a lot of potential and that potential resides in the youth.”
To learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, visit: bgclubflint.org
Find and follow BAU-HŌUSE on Instagram here.
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