Gentlemen's Agreement program receives $42,000 grant

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The Gentlemen's Agreement, Wilson's celebrated youth mentoring program, has received a $42,000 grant from the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In an event Tuesday night, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward presented the funds to Maurice Barnes, founder of the mentoring program.

"It was an exciting night," Barnes said. "The students were present for the program and a good cross-section of the community was present. It was an inspirational night."

"We believe in what they are doing," said Ward. "United Methodist people and the North Carolina Annual Conference are deeply committed to helping all children in North Carolina grow into the fullness of life."

Ward said that 83 percent of United Methodist congregations have a partnership with a public school.

"We are partnered with public schools in communities across the state," Ward said. "The Gentlemen's Agreement an excellent example of what we hope to see in our communities, young people being surrounded by nurture and encouragement and joy so that they might grow into the fullness of life. We entrust these funds, considering this a mission investment in the good work that is ongoing, the partnering these young men with mentors, the enriching opportunities that are being provided, such as the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture."

Barnes said this grant will take this program to the next phase.

"We were so enthused and excited about the future of The Gentlemen's Agreement," Barnes said. "We've got a parent workshop that we are going to do. We've got some trips for the guys that we are going to do. It also provides for a small stipend for the liaisons and for the mentor recruiter who secures mentors for the guys. We appreciate the community's embrace of The Gentlemen's Agreement  and we are looking forward to greater things to take place. We are excited about the middle school and elementary school component that we are planning to launch this year. Hopefully, in a couple of years, we will have The Gentlemen's Agreement program at every one of the schools in Wilson County.