SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Sergio Arroyo knows just how important it is to motivate and inspire young, African American children in western Massachusetts.
The 20-year-old volunteers for the Black Men of Greater Springfield, a nonprofit organization that he says, has shaped him into the person he is today. “I entered the program kind of broken and angry, and they never judged me for it. They used that anger and built on it so I could become who I am today,” he said.
On Saturday, State Rep. Benjamin Swan gave the Black Men of Greater Springfield a $200,000 grant to make sure they’ll be able to continue their programs through 2016.
The BMGS then used the rest of the money to provide more than 20 other nonprofit organizations with unity grants.
The Black Men of Greater Springfield gave unity grants to 23 nonprofit organizations that work within the African American community in western Massachusetts.
Marie Bigo of Springfield told 22News these organizations have helped teach her children valuable life skills. “I have two young boys at home. There’s not enough things for them to do in a positive way and that’s why I’m really grateful that my boys got a chance to be in the organization because it’s really positive for them,” she said.
The grant money was given to a variety of youth organizations, from after school programs like the Boys and Girls Club Center, to educational programs, like the Boy Scouts.
Ron Harrel, the Scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop 35 in Springfield told 22News they’ll use the money to expand on their outdoor activities. “We teach leadership skills, we teach respect for Mother Nature, we teach leadership skills, emergency preparedness, really all of the things that young men need to be successful adults,” he said.