- (Photo: The Christian Post/ Sami K. Martin)
The word “wanted” has a new meaning in Valley Stream, New York.
WANTED stands for “Worthy, Accountable, Named, Thankful, Empowered, and Determined,” and is the name of a new program started by the Reverend Kymberley Clemons (KC) Jones.
Rev. Jones started the project after her son was violently attacked only a few blocks from home.
During the time spent in the hospital with her son, Rev. Jones began thinking of ways to address the growing violence in Valley Stream, a town on Long Island. She formed the acronym out of words she thought young men needed to hear.
“My son’s assault was the catalyst for this program, as well as being the mother of two young men. I am constantly around their friends. I recognized that there’s no place for them to talk and share their feelings without being made fun of or called ‘girly.’ Sometimes they get support at home, but that support needs reinforcement.”
A few months later the first meeting of the WANTED Project was held at the Valley Stream Presbyterian Church where Jones is the pastor. A group of 15 boys, ages 12-18, attended the first seven-week session and graduated from the program.
As the seven weeks passed, the WANTED Project quickly became known in Valley Stream, gaining attention from the local media and even the Mayor’s office. In fact, Mayor Edwin A. Fare attended the graduation service and issued citations to each of the graduates. He also recognized the work that Rev. Jones had done on behalf of the community.
The WANTED Project recently held its second graduation ceremony, which featured City Councilman Jumaane Williams from Brooklyn. Williams spoke to the graduates about his experiences growing up and working in government as a “non-typical” man and overcoming multiple challenges.
Rev. Jones told The Christian Post that the long-term vision/goal of the WANTED Project is “to provide young men with enough tools and positive information to be contributing members of society. Also, we want them to have enough self-esteem to be successful in life.
“We would like to see the young men go to college or have a job when they turn 18 instead of being taken in by their, sometimes negative, environments.”
Rev. Jones has plans for the WANTED Project. It will have its third class in the spring, and there are monthly meetings for alumni. She hopes that the project will gain funding in order to be able to expand and possibly even create internships for young men in Valley Stream."
“There is a real lack of good things to do for young men over the age of 12. We hope to be able to give them something to do, a place to gain skills. We plan to develop and offer a WANTED program for young women in the next couple of years.”
The WANTED Project currently has three supporters, two of which are churches: Valley Stream Presbyterian and Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt, New York.
When asked what gives her the drive to do this work, Rev. Jones answered that her sons provide much of the inspiration, but she also gets support from God. “I know that God has placed this on my heart; I am answering God’s call.”