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Progress 2018

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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LEFT: Essence Bryant, left, plays a game with Micaiah Yelverton, right, to determine which team will kick first at the "Kicking it with ITG" kickball tournament in June. The event, organized by Impact Teens Goldsboro, saw dozens of youth from the community join officers from the Goldsboro Police Department to play at Mina Weil Park. action. Slowly at first, and then with increasing momentum, people in the city began to come together to make change. Activist groups, intent on improving their community, blossomed from individuals or small groups in larger organizations capa- ble of making a difference. One of those "few people" was Mark Cole- brook, and that larger organization was Operation Unite Goldsboro. Born in Miami, Fla., Colebrook joined the military right out of high school in 1983. He arrived in Golds- boro in 2002 as a hospital administrator in the Air Force. "I was an Air Force officer for 22 years, and after I retired from the military I went and worked at Duke University and then also at UNC Chapel Hill," he said. "Then, I decided I wanted to become a teacher, so I came back and taught math at Dillard Mid- dle School for three years." When Colebrook decided to turn toward teaching in 2011, Goldsboro was a natural choice. "What brought me back to Goldsboro specifically was that my kids were still here, and they were still all young and kind of going through the Wayne County Public School system," he said. "I had been an instructor in the military for four years, and had liked it, and I thought 'what better way to connect with the kids than to just become a teacher?'" Colebrook worked at Dillard from 2011 to 2014, then went to work at Prevention and Treatment Center, where he worked with at-risk youth who had been suspended from school or had other issues with the Depart- ment of Justice. It was while working for Prevention and Treatment Center that Colebrook began to formulate the idea for Operation Unite Goldsboro. "I worked with agencies such as the court counselors, we worked with the school sys- tem, and so we got to kind of see the nega- tive side when it comes to the kids," he said. "In dealing with that, I found out that it was a systemic problem, just from a com- munity standpoint. That you couldn't just look at the kid and blame the kid, it's the kids, it's the school system, it's the parents, it's the city government, there's a lot of moving pieces to the community." What Colebrook found through his work was that, throughout all of those moving pieces, there were "pockets of excellence" where people were doing work in the com- munity to try and make things better. How- ever, those pockets were just that –– isolat- ed pockets of good people without any con- nectivity or sense of a larger goal to work toward. "People didn't know what each other were doing, which caused a lot of duplication of work and effort," Colebrook said. "And at the end of the day, if you look back, we real- ly hadn't moved the needle anywhere, because you had 10 people doing the same thing." Colebrook was inspired to bring those dis- parate groups together. Bringing over a bit of vocabulary from the military, he began Operation Unite Goldsboro, with the goal of streamlining the work that groups all over the community were already doing. From there, it was a matter of finding the groups who wanted to pitch in, and helping them succeed. • It was in 2016 that one of those groups –– Impact Teens Goldsboro –– emerged. Founded by brothers Khalil Cobb and Ja'Shawn Faire, the group was designed to give young people the chance to change their communities for the better. Faire, who acts as a spokesman for the organization, said the idea for Impact Teens arose from the broth- ers' desire for community engage- ment. "In 2015, I came up with an idea for giving back to people during Christmas time, so in 2015 I had a food drive and I gave back to 10- plus families in 2015, and in 2016 I did again and added a toy drive," Faire said. "I spoke at my church about what I was doing, and one of my church members was in an American Legion post. He told me we should start an organi- zation." Weeks before that day, Cobb had broached the topic of creating a teen organization already, but Cobb said he didn't buy in to the idea at the time. Cobb, 18, runs a small lawn care service, has a job as funeral director's assistant at Serenity Memorial Funeral Home, is a deacon at Faith Presby- terian church and is a student and ROTC Cadet Group commander at Eastern Wayne High School, so adding a new civic group on to all of that seemed farfetched. However, after hearing from a second per- son that the two brothers might have even more to offer the community, Faire came around. "I was just like 'OK, Khalil, let's do it,' and we went home that night and we talked to my mom and talked to our family," he said. "We just said 'this is what we're doing, now we just need to figure out a name and our purpose.' And we just went from there." Before Impact Teens, Faire said that he and his brother were not particularly well- known in the Goldsboro community. Though he knew plenty of people through his vari- ous commitments, Faire said starting Impact Teens gave the two young men a chance to meet other people trying to make change happen. "I would say, when we first announced about Impact Teens, really we were not known to like, the mayor and Mark Cole- brook. We didn't know any of those people before we launched Impact Teens," he said. "We just started being involved in the com- munity, going to the city council meetings and meeting the city council members, I Friday, February 23, 2018 Goldsboro News-Argus — 15C Change Mark Colebrook stands under the bucket as the Eastern Wayne girls basketball team warms up for its game against Southern Wayne at home this season. Colebrook can often be found in this same spot giving words of encouragement to the girls before the game and during halftime. Mark Colebrook, left of center, shakes the hand of a Dillard Middle School student as he arrives on the first day of class. in motion LEFT: Khalil Cobb, bottom left, and Ja'Shawn Faire, bottom right, pose with members of the Salvation and Praise Full Gospel Church in Far- mville during an anti-bullying event in October. The brothers frequently travel to do public, inspirational speaking engagements and spread the word about Impact Teens Goldsboro. BOTTOM RIGHT: Erica Batts, left, Impact Teens Goldsboro, group president, and Kiri Hamilton, right, Impact Teens outreach chair, talk at the Impact Day of Skating event in December. Impact Teens regularly organizes community events designed to get youth off the street and keep them out of trouble. Continued from page 14 See page 18

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