Updated: Jun 1, 2020
For the past few months, the United States has been combating the COVID-19 virus which has taken the world by storm. The spread of this virus, which has caused the majority of the United States to shutdown, led to many working adults either being furloughed or losing their job altogether. This has placed a huge strain on families’ ability to put food on the table.
Also, with distribution chains heavily affected and the growing uncertainty of how long this crisis will last, some families are unsure where their next meal may come from. It is vital for us as a community to continue to unite and provide support for these families in need. No child should ever go to sleep hungry, and no parent should have to worry about how they will feed their children.
It is my belief everyone has the responsibility to care for and support their community. This is what Capitol Underground’s founding principle is, community. From our yearly coat drive for the homeless, to our gaming events, & our S.T.E.M events we continue to partner with organizations like Brothers Reaching Out to Help Each Reach Success, also known as BROTHERS Academy This is to build the connection between gaming and the local community. This past weekend we worked with BROTHERS Academy to provide over 2,000 boxes of food to families in our community.
With lines stretching for miles, the need could not be more evident. For the past three weeks, this initiative has ensured 3,000+ families have had the food they desperately needed. Seeing so many volunteers come out to support their communities in their time of need was a beautiful thing. This level of commitment and support for the community is nothing new for the BROTHERS Academy program.
During the COVID-19 crisis, BROTHERS Academy has supported over 500 disenfranchised students, giving them the opportunity to receive tutoring at no cost to them. It has been the mantra of this organization since its inception for everything to be provided at no cost to the participants or their families. BROTHERS Academy is a shining example of what can be achieved by a group of dedicated young men who understand they have a mandate to serve their community.
For the past thirty years the BROTHERS Academy program, which has been led by founder Morris Hudson, has been a pillar in the community. They have distributed over 800,000 individual toys for Toys for Tots and partnered with the Vision Walk Foundation to raise money to fight blindness. They have also hosted food drives, worked in local soup kitchens, and so much more.
Morris Hudson’s vision is to embolden students to grow, encourage them in a community of brotherhood, and equip them to make a difference in their own communities. He has turned this vision into reality for 3 decades. As a former marine, Morris Hudson understands the mandate to serve and why it is so important. He learned the true meaning of brotherhood and what it takes to lead.
As a BROTHERS Academy alumni, I have had the pleasure of being a part of this vision and took it to heart, while also incorporating community into every aspect of Capitol Underground Gaming.
This program has saved thousands of at-risk young men’s’ lives. Many of the students who go through this program have stories which would bring any empathetic individual to tears, these students come from troubled backgrounds with no guidance and leadership. Many of these young men have never had the support of a strong and courageous man, like Morris Hudson, who would give his all to make a positive change in their lives.
Through his leadership, the program boasts a 100% high school graduation rate. This includes 70% of these men going on to college, and 30% learning a trade, which is higher than the national average of 88%. With the foundation Morris Hudson has built and the growing leadership of the program’s new executive director, Nahom Tekle, the continued investment in today’s youth is creating the leaders of tomorrow.
We sat down with the new executive director, Nahom Tekle to learn more about his ambitious vision for BROTHERS Academy and why this program is so important to those within the organization as well as the community.
Trevor: “Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you became involved in the BROTHERS Academy program”?
Nahom: “I joined B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S in 2010 and graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 2013. I continued my education at the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in finance. After I graduated in 2017, I worked at Capital One supporting the bank’s deposit portfolios. In March of 2020, unrelated to COVID-19, I left my role at Capital One to join BROTHERS Academy full time as its executive director”.
Trevor: What was your most memorable BROTHERS Academy moment?
Nahom: “Serving at the soup kitchen for St. Martins church was the first time I was able to do community service with my friends. I found it to be a gratifying experience, and conducive to my desire to help others. I have been on a journey dedicated to community service ever since”.
Trevor: “What does the program mean to you? How has the program shaped your life?”.
Nahom: “To me, BROTHERS Academy means a community of brotherhood that rallies to support each other. It is a program that acts as a bridge to disenfranchised students to improve educational equity and equal opportunity.
The program exposed me to the reality of what it takes to prepare for higher education. BROTHERS Academy took me on my first college tour, showing me the differences in colleges and universities in terms of experiences and requirements to get in”.
Trevor: “Why is the program so important to its members and the community”?
Nahom: “BROTHERS Academy most importantly provides a community where members have a sense of belonging and support. Through this community and programs, students are exposed to a broader perspective of the world, introduced to new opportunities, and equipped to take advantage of resources in front of them. It’s truly a one stop shop to take student members as they are, and groom them to be men of distinction and community service”.
Trevor: “Can you share the importance of the program’s current initiative to provide food to the community during the pandemic”?
Nahom: “We have a sense of urgency to meet the needs of families who are not covered by many of the government programs/resources because of their immigration status, those who are unfamiliar with application processes, and those who have a disconnect between resources available and their community. BROTHERS Academy prioritizes meeting food security of not just our members and their families, but the greater Gaithersburg community as a whole. We believe a thriving direct service non-profit is reflected in the improvement of its community’s quality of life and access to essential resources”.
Trevor: “What is your vision for the future of BROTHERS Academy”?
Nahom: “The vision for BROTHERS Academy is to be a shield of protection, a stepping stone of opportunity, a guiding light of purpose which emboldens each member to grow, and encourages each person in a community of brotherhood which equips each one to reach another. It is an academy built on servant leadership and selfless devotion to help others. We aspire to achieve this mission through enhancing the educational equity and overall health of students from low socio-economic backgrounds and adverse home environments”.
What are the things you are doing to create positive change in your community? How has your work supported your community? What are some things that Capitol Underground Gaming can support in our community? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Learn more about the BROTHERS Academy program and all the great work they’re doing or donate by visiting their website.
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Trevor Williams, Founder of Capitol Underground Gaming routinely contributes thought-provoking articles surrounding gaming and community.
Editor Credits: Malik Williams