By Luke Fawcett
“Don’t talk about it, be about it.” This is the motivation of Brothers for Change, and while not incredibly complex, the succinctness of this phrase disguises its true power. “Don’t talk about it, be about it” is not a simple slogan, but rather a powerful rallying cry that has empowered Brothers For Change to become one of the most impressive and transformative organizations on Randolph-Macon’s campus. Founded in the fall of 2005 by students Leonard Abbott ’06 and JoJo McDuffie ’06, Brothers for Change has been a motivating facilitator for change in the Ashland community since its inception. According to McDuffie, “I noticed that the minority retention rates were low and when I polled the minority students leaving R-MC, their response was there was a lack of diversity. Most were not involved in any on-campus activities.” McDuffie and Abbott set out to correct this problem, and soon Brothers for Change was born with the motto: “Prosperity Through Brotherhood, We All We Got.” With two years of operation under its belt, Brothers for Change has made great advances in achieving its goal of uniting the men of Randolph-Macon regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic background to promote leadership, diversity and responsibility on the campus and in the surrounding community. These goals are accomplished through several noteworthy service projects, including undertakings to winterize Ashland houses, donations to Angel Tree children, participating in Macon-a-Difference Day and by hosting an annual Community Day for local children in need. The Community Day 2007 event in March was held in the Brock Center where more than 70 local children played games, watched movies, participated in a mentoring session, listened to speakers and asked questions to members of the group. The women from the Black Cultural Society were available to mentor the young girls. Lunch and snacks were also provided during the day. “Brothers for Change is creating an atmosphere that was needed on our campus,” said Ambrose Phillips ’09, a current member of B4C (the abbreviation members use to refer to the group). Brothers for Change is actively making a difference in the Ashland area through personal involvement. This is not an organization that provides help from a distance – the members of B4C are stepping outside their comfort zones and into the trenches, working hands-on to meet the needs of the Ashland community. One way Brothers for Change is visibly active on a regular basis is through its partnership with the Dooley Center for Alternative Education at St. Joseph’s Villa. Located in Richmond, St. Joseph’s Villa provides a structured learning environment for troubled students in Richmond and its surrounding counties. B4C members visit the school on a weekly basis to mentor the children, help with homework and provide a strong male role model. “Brothers for Change’s impact has been tremendous,” said Frances Kenyear, head of the Dooley Center at St. Joseph’s Villa. “They relate so well to our students, and give them something to aspire to.” Easton Davis ’09, a member of B4C, agrees, “It’s really great to be a positive role model to the kids. They aren’t bad, just misguided, and we can help them recognize that. I personally have seen changes in their behavior since we started working there.” “These gentlemen are really awesome,” said Frances Kenyear. “They really are godsends.” The partnership between Brothers for Change and St. Joseph’s Villa is just one of many examples how the young men of this driven organization are using their time at Randolph-Macon to create a positive change in the community. Future B4C projects include another Community Day, working with the American Cancer Society, monitoring the minimum wage bill, participating in the Greater Richmond African American health forum and continuing community service. B4C member Jacai Colson ’09 modestly describes the group’s work as “just doing the right thing,” but their commitment to improving R-MC and its neighbors is truly admirable. “Brothers for Change is a phenomenal organization for young men put together for service in the community and altogether betterment of the college,” said Anthony Keitt, director, Community, Diversity and Justice Center and adviser to Brothers for Change.