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Dougherty middle school students 'tie one on' during annual mentoring event

Albany Herald - 6/17/2021

Jun. 17—ALBANY — "You are somebody!" was the message on Thursday to a group of young men who gathered to bond with adult men and learn how to tie a necktie.

The "Ties That Bind" ceremony was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 version brought together about 40 Dougherty County middle school students with adult mentors from throughout the community. The participants are involved in youth programs through the Albany-Dougherty Youth Unit summer program, operated by area law enforcement and the Albany Boys & Girls Clubs.

It is part of Men's Health Week activities sponsored by the Phoebe Putney Health System that includes a Saturday men's health fair at Albany State University.

"We know that young boys need a strong father impetus or role-modeling in their life," said Darrell Sabbs, Phoebe's community events organizer, who himself was raised by his grandparents in a home without a dad. "There are so many boys who grow up fatherless."

For this year, the event was scaled down to allow for social distancing, but the group responded positively to speakers Lt. Terron Hayes, chief deputy of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, Demetrius "Coach D'Love" Love and Boys & Girls Club CEO Marvin Laster.

"The idea behind the annual Ties That Bind gathering is taken from the 100 Black Men of America's statement: 'In order to be a man, you need to see a man,'" Sabbs said. "Too many boys who grow up without a positive male role model turn to others such as gang members.

"This luncheon bridges a gap, hopefully, in that child's appreciation of himself to have their community around him who supports him. We've been doing this for a few years because we feel it's important."

Hayes told the group that seeing positive role models will help the participants as they model thier lives. Ties That Bind offers a positive view on how to enter manhood in a positive way, he said.

"What you see is what you will be," he said. "If you place yourself with success, guess what? You're going to be successful. If you sit with a mess, what are you going to be? You're going to be messy."

The local Men's Health Week activities will continue with the Saturday health fair at the Billy C. Black Auditorium at Albany State University. The health fair will include health screenings for blood pressure and prostate-specific antigen testing from 8-11 a.m.


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