A highly anticipated store opening will expand on a Frayser pastor’s quest to provide youths with positive alternatives to become successful adults and reduce crime.
“The ReGroup Upscale Thrift Boutique will keep our youth engaged,” said the Rev. Ricky Floyd, senior lead pastor at Pursuit of God Transformation Center at 3759 North Watkins in Frayser.
“Our programs are geared toward prevention — catching young people before they get involved in drugs, sex and gangs.
“Running these businesses will not only teach personal responsibility and marketable job skills, but they will see wealth-building through entrepreneurship first-hand.”
Floyd said the thrift store is the result of his seven P’s philosophy “coming together” and to help the community.
Those P’s are pastors, principals, politicians, parents, police officers, proprietors, and partners (from outside the Frayser community).
“Everything we do resolves around this: We are restoring the righteous, relevant reputation to the local congregation (which are the seven P’s),” Floyd said.
The Husband Institute and I Am She Mentoring” at Pursuit of God also offer career counseling, mentoring and nurturing, along with affirming guidance for at-risk youth, ages 6-17.
Businesses and community supporters across the city have donated thousands of items to be sold in the boutique. The store is across the street from the church. Floyd is shooting for the weekend leading up to July 4 to open.
Tuesday (May 17), he showed an editor for The New Tri-State Defender boxes upon boxes of donated clothing and jewelry stored inside the church.
In another area of the facility, clothing and jewelry were on display in scene that resembled a department store thrift outlet.
Floyd said stipends will be paid to working youngsters, and a portion of the profits will go to support the Husband Institute.
“It’s important for our young people to understand that they are part of our community’s solutions,” said Floyd. “We can heal our own community. Earning a living through honest work is a satisfaction they will experience for themselves. We create loving, affirming scenarios for them. Building these businesses is an extension of that objective.”
Floyd continued, “Our young people have been so encouraged by the overwhelming support. Many, many (of the donated) items are brand new and have never been used. Families will be able to purchase quality clothing and household goods at affordable prices. We expect a thriving, profitable business, thanks to our community.”
In addition, eligible families will receive shopping vouchers for the store.
Several other new businesses are also opening, including a food truck, lawn service, and a garden of fresh vegetables for sale, Floyd said.
“Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and collard greens will be cultivated and sold,” said Floyd. “The community will have a fresh, accessible source of vegetables. That is exciting for our children.”
Michael McGee, director of the Husband Institute, said working in the businesses will “offer valuable life lessons.”
“Our children must interview for the jobs they want. The opportunity to work must involve commitment and dedication. These ventures will produce budding, future business owners. Their lessons will be transformative,” McGee said.
Christian Wright, 16, has been in the Husband Institute for more than a year. His participation has been life changing.
“The Husband Institute helped me become focused in my education,” Wright said. “That whole accountability part, with strong, male figures, has really helped me. We get a mentor, along with our own team, and they help us work toward our goals. We make a vision board when we first come in. They keep me on track.”
Wright said with no father in his home, the program has been meaningful as he works toward college. He is now a “straight-A” student at Power Academy.
“I want to major in psychology, to help kids who struggle,” said Wright. “My GPA shot up this year, and I am working to get an academic or track scholarship. Working in one of our businesses will give me valuable life experiences.”
Charlie Caswell, who will be sworn in as the new District 6 Shelby County commissioner on Sept. 1, is a favorite speaker of the institute, coming often to encourage the young men.
“I let our guys know that I didn’t have a lot growing up,” said Caswell. “I came up just like them. But the Lord helped me achieve my goals. I had to be resilient. I started as a grassroots organizer. Now, I’m an elected official. My message is that God can do the same for them.”
Caswell’s sister, Vanessa Caswell, is director of “I Am She,” a non-profit started three years ago.
“The Lord gave me a vision for the organization,” said Vanessa Caswell. “Girls need help that sometimes they can’t get at home. Things like putting on makeup, talking about boys and developing into respectable, Godly young ladies, are important issues for them.
“Working to sustain these businesses will give them a sense of independence and self-reliance. It’s going to be a beautiful summer.”
District 1 Memphis City Councilwoman Rhonda Logan, who represents a portion of Frayser, gave Floyd grant money to add the lawn service to the roster of businesses.
“If we really want to see change in our community, we must start with young people,” said Logan. “Pastor Floyd has done effective outreach with our children for many years. I fully support all these business projects.”