Making A Difference:
Larry Williams recalls the moment that he truly understood the value of encouragement.
A young man he was mentoring lost his father, and the financial hardship that followed caused him, his mother, his sister and his two brothers to sleep in a car for months. Williams worked to secure the family a place to sleep and shower comfortably on a few occasions, and urged the youth to continue to attend school.
He was a frequent attendee at the young man’s basketball games, making his presence known and acting as his biggest cheerleader.
Still, he wondered if he was doing enough and really making an impact on the young man’s life. .
Then, one night at their church youth group, the question was asked “who has been a positive impact in your life?” The young man did not hesitate to discuss the difference Williams’ concern and mentorship had made in his life.
In that moment, Williams was surprised and humbled. Realizing that there were other young men in need of such support, he was inspired to create Next2Getto empower youth to invest in themselves.
“Next2Get is about taking action on your dreams and understanding your purpose,” Williams said. “Self-awareness is key, as is being knowledgeable of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires.”
While the organization hosts workshops for hundreds of youth nationwide, its target audience are at-risk young men, who he hopes to inspire with his own story.
“Next2Get is rooted in my own history of growing up and making some wrong life choices,” Williams said. “As a young man who had no real identity, a mom on drugs, no consistent place to call home, gangs, drugs, jail and surviving the streets, I want to share how to overcome the past.
“I didn’t really realize until a couple of years ago that my testimony exists to inspire others. Not every story and struggle is the same … but the possibility is the same that everyone can be Next2Get their success.”
Next2Get works to impact the lives of youth in multiple areas that include sports, fitness and self-motivation. The organization offers a curriculum designated to assist middle and/or high school students, college and community agencies to take action on the dreams and purpose of youth. The 4-8 week curriculum can be customized depending on age and personal/social need. In addition, workshop, speaking engagements and student groups are facilitated by trained professionals.
Williams is pleased to see how excitement and sense of optimism in the program’s participants, which helps him stay motivated “to be the best mentor and support system (he) can be to them.”
Williams is also thrilled with how receptive the community seems to be to his organization’s mission and purpose and how many people want to be involved in the work.
“I am most surprised by the way God continues to open doors, no matter the size, with the people I have connected with,” Williams said. “Every encounter and experience keeps me pushing forward and my faith soaring higher.”
In fact, Williams has a big vision for Next2Get. In the next few years, he sees the work expanding into more schools, foster homes and juvenile centers and would even envisions a partnership with entities such as Nike to raise the organization’s profile.
As for its lasting impact, Williams hopes that what the young men who participate in his program instill a belief in themselves that will last them a lifetime.
“I hope and pray that all participants in the program are inspired to know that life is a journey and can learn from every good and bad experience,” Williams said. “The end goal is to keep pushing through, not only for themselves, but so they can inspire someone else to get their success.”
Name: Larry Williams
Social Media : IG: Next2Get.n2g / Facebook: Next2Get.n2g / website: www.next2get.com
By Angela N. Parker