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Life after “Secret Millionaire” has opened my eyes to what needs to be done for the youth of America from low-income areas. We are numb from hearing about the murders and shootings of these young people. It no longer strikes a chord in our heart when we hear about these tragic events.

I wrote my quote book, “Give Rise to a Leader,” about love, hope and promise to inspire us all to make a difference in someone’s life. This is what led me to donate a portion of my proceeds to Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy and the Charter School of the Dunes.

It’s not only about giving money to the schools. Anyone can donate a few dollars here and there, but if you really want to make a change then you have to get involved.

I have joined Coach Marcus Jefferson at Theodore Roosevelt to become a part of his male mentoring group. Here we have the opportunity to direct, motivate and inspire this group of freshman young men, and help them achieve their dreams of a better life.

For the fall semester, I would like to start an investment club at Roosevelt, to help students learn about stocks and investments with money I am pledging to the program. The kids will learn how to plan and invest in the stock market and hopefully make a profit by the end of the school year.

Jefferson has taken it upon himself to help the youth of East Chicago as well. I attended his block party at Goodman Park in East Chicago on May 23 and talked to the kids. I was surprised by the number of children there and impressed with the volunteers who gave their time to help. This is what I have been talking about, making a difference in your community.

With the help of my manager, Aliya Jackson, I am making plans for an event in September called “Boys to Men.” It is a young men’s initiative to help guide and direct the youth of the area to stay positive about their future. My goal is to show them that there is life beyond Gary.

We will teach them how to properly wear a tie (Windsor knot), and how to conduct themselves as young men of society. I hope this initiative will expand into a three-day event next spring.

It isn’t just me giving back to the Gary community. With the help of Dr. Sabrina Davis, Dr. Joi Patterson, Carol Witvoet, Lavetta Lampley and other volunteers; we will inspire others to have these same events in their community. We need to become mentors and be a positive force for making a change in the community — and a child’s life.

I am proud to join forces with The Times Media Co. and the Gary Chamber of Commerce to promote the Community Civility Counts initiative. Together we can make a positive change in Northwest Indiana. I challenge readers to become part of these wonderful projects in your area.

Coach Tony Branch can be reached through his website: The opinions are the writer’s.


Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.