STEUBENVILLE – A “Powerful message” of a changed life will make the local celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day something inspiring and special for the youth of the region, says Bobbyjon Bauman, director of the Sycamore Youth Center.
The center is partnering with the MLK Association to host MLK Youth and Kids Day on January 17 at 301 N. Fourth St., which will feature the keynote speaker and Janese Boston of Columbus, a native of Steubenville.
“Basically at 11 o’clock we will start the program in the center of the sanctuary”, Bauman said, explaining what the event until 1 p.m. will involve.
There will be performances by singer Elisha Fletcher, winner of Valley’s Got Talent in 2014; dancer Lynzee Ensell, winner of the Valley’s Got Talent 2021 competition; hip-hop artist “Mo Truth” Uncomfortable “Minister of truth” Shelby of Pittsburgh; the community youth choir; and hip-hop singer Lawrence JR Lewis of Steubenville High School HS.
A free pizza lunch for the kids followed by a birthday cake to celebrate MLK’s birthday will close the day’s events.
The stations explaining the life of MLK and its achievements will be the work of the Rise Youth Group under the direction of Trey Jeter. They will be installed in the foyer of the center, according to Bauman, who added that Sharon Kirtdoll, treasurer of the MLK Association, will provide an MLK exhibit.
“If you’ve never heard Janese share her story, you’ll be really blown away by this”, Bauman said of Boston in his promotional material.
Boston grew up in the South Steubenville neighborhood and “Has withstood very difficult trials to become a chef in Columbus and was recently featured on the TV show ‘Good Morning America’,” he noted.
“I had in mind to invite Janese as the keynote speaker and finally this year it worked pretty well for her to come,” he said in a recent interview.
“Dear beloved community” is the theme of the Boston presentation.
“It’s important for me to do this because sharing my story to inspire others and the work that I and others do in the community is the spirit of brotherhood and inclusive brotherhood that Dr. King spoke about” she said.
Boston, which operates its private chef’s business, Living Proof Chef Service, and its nonprofit, Be Living Proof, attended former Lincoln Elementary School, then Harding. After ninth grade, she dropped out of school, made bad choices, got into trouble and ended up in jail in Marysville, sentenced to five years on assault charges with a weapon specification.
Thirty days after the conviction, she gave birth to her son. “I was able to spend 30 days with my son before I left. I did four years and a few months ”, she had shared in an interview during a previous visit to her hometown.
She received her GED in prison and two college degrees after her release.
That it is not too late to start over is a message she advocates.
This will mark Boston’s third return trip to the area to reach out to youth with the other two programs appropriately involving center youth cooking camps,
Both times, she shared a testimonial about how bad choices and bad influences can combine for mediocre results, but second chances are possible.
Boston continues to be successful with her business, which just completed its best year ever, she said. “We have helped many people create memories through our culinary experiences”, noted Boston, who appeared in an episode of “Hello America” for her Build a Bond toy drive she hosted this Christmas and last time in Franklin County, Columbus.
He gives gifts to children who have an incarcerated parent, something Boston can relate to, having been incarcerated herself.
This was the second year of her action which, overall, has given gifts to no less than 40 children.
“The incarcerated parent is housed in one of the two Franklin County prisons located in Columbus”, explained Boston, who is working with Tresalyn Butler, director of social services for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, to identify eligible parents for the toy drive. Parents must meet certain criteria to show that they are working to prepare for life after prison.
“Parents are programming in the prison. Once we have a list of all the parents who have registered for the toy drive, Tresalyn sends the guardian / caregivers a form that asks for permission to involve the child (ren), as well as the size and sizes. interests of the child “, she continued.
“The caretakers send me this form and I personally make purchases for each child. Each parent is required to write their child (ren) a handwritten letter to accompany the gifts. Maintaining positive interactions between inmates is important for many reasons, but the main one being that the prison system sees a lot of recidivism due to lack of support.
Establishing positive communication between inmates and their children often gives them the will to continue to improve, according to Boston.
It is also essential, she said, that the child always needs to know that his absent parent loves him. “The trauma of the child as an absent parent and the incarceration of minors are sometimes linked. “ she said. “We want to implement ways in which the child relates to his absent parent beyond the physical.”
Boston said its story ended on “Hello America” after a local news station covered the toy drive story, then Good Morning America contacted me to cover it as well.
Bauman believes the 38-year-old’s message will resonate with young people. “Many children who come to Sycamore come from this region”, he said.
“MLK is a role model for many people who have struggled in life, whom they can see as a shining light” Bauman said, noting that Boston has been able to overcome difficult circumstances and be successful.
“She’s living the American dream and showing that it can be done. Whatever your background, you can succeed and make your dreams come true ”, Bauman said. “Everyone is welcome to participate in the program from 11 am to noon. It is open to the public but is an event for children and young people. This event is not intended for adults. It’s an MLK celebration for young people and children. Every year, adults have come, but the focus is on young people and children ”, Bauman said.
Children benefit, according to Bauman.
“Each of the speakers I brought did a great job – Steve Forte two years ago and last year Michael Jett and this year Janese, so I’m trying to bring in someone local and they bring a different theme but basically we try to inspire the kids that they are successful people coming from a difficult background so this also relates to the theme of unity that MLK had from different races working together and inspiring change ”, Bauman said.