‘Gamechangers’ Westside event sees more male mentors this year


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — After a recent successful Fairy Boss Mothers Ball where little girls from Charleston’s westside were mentored by local career women, it was the boys’ turn Saturday.

The third annual Game Changers mentorship event took place in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and was organized by Leeshia Lee.

Participants there say the event grew from last year, with more mentors this year.

“This is more of a networking event with the steps to become a man, the proper way to stand talk, to get your business going,” said Derek Stotts, one of the mentors.

Stotts says more mentoring events that go beyond the athletic arena are what’s needed in the community.

Saturday saw men like Charleston-area accountant Mavery Davis, lawyer and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and Senator Richard Lindsay (D-Kanawha) come out and participate.

Donwaygo Moore Sr., a friend of Lee’s, traveled all the way from Maryland’s Walter Reed Medical Center to the event.

This time he brought gifts for the mothers.

“There’s a lot going on in the city right now,” said Moore.

“We don’t have to be fathers, we don’t have to be uncles; just a neighbor or a friend can change and shift a child’s life,” he said.

“We don’t have to be fathers, we don’t have to be uncles; just a neighbor or a friend can change and shift a child’s life.”

Donwaygo Moore Sr.

Children like Capital High School student Christian Gist, who received a $1,000 scholarship from Omega Psi Phi, a historically black fraternity that was also present.

“Just because you’re from West Virginia doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage compared to anyone else born in any other state; you know there are so many great people here, so many influential people here, and if you have that mindset that you’re going to be great then you will be great,” said Gist.

The high school senior was recently accepted into Columbia University.

It’s the same sentiment echoed by many of the male mentors, like Kanawha County Commissioner and lawyer Ben Salango.

This is the second time Salango participates in the event and he was teaching the kids how to tie bow ties and neckties.

“I think it’s important for kids to see that a lot of people come from very humble beginnings and it’s all about hard work and keeping on the right path,” said Salango, who in the past has disclosed he grew up in a mobile home.

The right path and the right attitude said Julius Crowder, a local chef and another ‘gamechanger’ at Saturday’s event.

“No matter what your downfalls in life, whatever you’ve been through, you can be anything you want, you don’t have to let your bad stuff get you down,” said Crowder.

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