Hinesville hosted its fifth annual Tied to Success male empowerment workshop Saturday.
The free event focuses to males 10 and older and drew more than 100 men and boys to learn from a series of speakers on how to “Stay Lit.”
Attendees were welcomed by Interim City Manager Kenneth Howard, Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette.
The morning keynote speaker Tony Lowden, manager of the Faith and Justice Initiative in the Re-entry Services Unit of the Department of Community Supervision, stirred the audience with a story about growing up in Philadelphia. He said was raised by a single mother, who was addicted to drugs and who told him that he would never be successful.
Lowden said he eventually earned an athletic scholarship to University of Southern California and has had a career working with programs to combat poverty and illiteracy.
“It doesn’t matter where you start,” he said. “Transform your mind and learn to grind so that you can achieve your dream. No matter what people do, they can’t steal your dream from you.”
The attendees then separated for small sessions.
Simon Steele engaged the 10- 12-year-olds with a series of stories about NBA players who have overcome obstacles. He encouraged the boys to aim to be part of something special.
“It’s okay to want more than you have,” Steele said.
The 13- 15-year-old group heard Pastor Alan Darsey speak about how to build a personal brand using passion, character, beliefs and courage.
“A passion is something that you are willing to put your heart, mind, body and soul into,” Darsey said. “When you find what you are passionate about and start doing it, you will live a fulfilled life.”
Pastor Aaron Cowart talked about the importance of connecting with the right people to the 16- 19-year-old group.
“Learn who is really for you,” Cowart said. “Some people will not be able to support your dreams or handle your success because it reminds them of their failures or shortcomings but stay humble and keep working at it.”
The Rev. Donnell Hopkins told the adult group about setting goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed. He also expressed the importance of self-awareness.
“Figure out how you want to define yourself and find a mentor who will help you become who you want to be,” Hopkins said.
The day ended with lunch when Anthony Johnson, a local minister, assistant principal and civic leader, spoke.
“People are willing and ready to invest in you, if they believe in you,” Johnson said. “Give them something to believe in. Don’t be a decorated box with nothing on the inside. Keep building your brand.”
This year’s event was organized by Howard, Daisy Jones, Johnson, Lovette and Kristin Bryant. The Hinesville Community Development Department manned the event and city program assistant Von Gilmore was the facilitator.
“Our city’s leadership has supported the youth through various city-sponsored programs because they recognize the importance of building up our youth and setting them up for success,” said Bryant, acting director of Hinesville Community Development Department.