On Madison’s East Side in the Darbo-Worthington neighborhood, Mentoring Positives is inspiring young people of color to achieve. 

Will Green, the nonprofit’s founder, spoke about Mentoring Positives and Off the Block, the business he and the youths created to give them a job. The young people make pizza and salsa at FEED Kitchens on Madison’s North Side, and local grocery stores sell the products. Mentoring Positives kids also hold popup sales at neighborhood events. 

Will coaches basketball at La Follette High School, and he described how the game was a vehicle in his life, taking him from Gary, Indiana, which is composed of 80% African Americans, to UW-Eau Claire, where he played. Basketball is a hook to engage young people, and so is Off the Block, he said. Will meets many young basketball players who believe they will someday play for the NBA, he said. He doesn’t correct them; he just tells them they have a better chance of becoming a lawyer or a doctor. 

Will described the leadership skills and training he offers young people through Mentoring Positives. They also take a test and are graded on  their social awareness and social responsibility. He sets goals for them and when they achieve those, they are rewarded with gift cards. 

Right now, Will is looking to raise approximately $100,000 for equipment to furnish a kitchen for Off the Block in the new Ella Apartments building at the former Ella’s Deli site. That would allow Off the Block to move out of FEED Kitchens where many food cart operators rent space to prepare their dishes. 

“I know if we get kids in the space, they will take ownership of it,” Will said. 



Other news: 

-The raffle tickets have been printed, and Rotarians can begin to sell them. 

-Jim Kattner is continuing the plant sale. He’ll be at the park Saturday with the plants for sale. 


Guests: John Schroeder, guest of Ken Pesik; Rich Tasker, guest of Jennifer Tasker. 


Visiting Rotarians: None.


Birthdays: May 23, Bob Klostermann; May 26, Bob Lenz.


Anniversaries: May 23, Greg and Heidi Garton; May 25, Mick and Jeamie Holm; May 25, Jon and Barbara Townley.


Greeters: May 20, Mick Holm and Lisa Humenik; May 27; Allen Jaeger and Roxanne Johnson; June 2, Jim Kattner and David Kennedy; June 9, Tom Kennedy and Bill Kennedy; June 16, Chris Kenney and Bob Klostermann.