The sign on the combination barber / beauty shop at 15758 Wyoming near Fenkell, on Detroit’s northwest side, reads Faye` Ness. It was left behind by a previous owner. No need to waste money on a new sign at this clean, quiet shop with its mature, no-nonsense clientele.  They know where they’re headed – into a home base with lifelong friends and extended family.

The three barbers and one beautician also support the mentoring efforts of their friend, Calvin Mann, a client who is a consistent presence in the shop, and the founder and president of Encourage Me I’m Young (EMIY).

EMIY is a 10-year-old youth empowerment and development program for black males age 8 and up that is supported by the men who work in or frequent the shop. EMIY has a clothing line and incorporates sports in its mentoring initiatives.

Mann also operates a six-week summer program for ninthhgraders to learn about college and a 14-week black male achievement program starting in the fall – both held at Rosedale Park Baptist Church.

Torrey Lucas, whose cousin owns the shop, dropped in for a line-up and trim on recent day. He says he supports Mann’s project “by buying the clothing and the money goes to help with the youth.”

Lucas’s son benefits from the project. “My son participates in the program because basketball teaches you life skills like leadership and teamwork,” Lucas said.

He said his son, 17 year old Keelen, has committed to Albion College as a student-athlete.

Barber, Tony Brookings, Mann’s “brother from another mother,” says they rarely get negative people in the shop but when they do, they just set a better example and diffuse the situation. He praises the “Most High” for bringing him into this brotherhood.   “It was meant for me to be here,” he said.

Brookings said the men in the shop discuss issues like those covered at the monthly Men Circles he and Mann attend. He noted,  “In society you’re taught not to cry. Men don’t do this or that. But you’re human. You’re gonna cry.”

Good Fathers Only, another group Mann started, is a non-profit with 30-plus men. They are preparing for a Father’s Day weekend Fatherhood Conference and Father and Son Breakfast. More than a dozen of these volunteers are clients of the shop as well.

The two organizations hold annual activities, including a fatherhood walk and pancake breakfast. Mann’s youngest, 15-year-old son Cameron, participates with his dad – including pitching in to cook all of the eggs for 80 people at the pancake event and cleaning the commercial kitchen afterward.

Mann says the men here focus on affirming the father’s role in the family and lifting the value of fathering. He taught his son to shop, budget, cook and clean. “Him being prepared for life is my job.”

Mann says his occupation is “national encourager.”

Proof of his power to propel youth comes from Ken Lucas who came in for a cut. He’s the father of the shop’s owner, native Detroiter and new Detroit Piston Kalin Lucas

Kalin Lucas, a former Michigan State University Spartan, played overseas after graduating in 2011.

His perseverance has now earned him a Pistons contract and when asked about mentoring programs that helped build his son’s character, Ken Lucas points to Mann, the coach who he says reinforced time management, personal responsibility and respect. “That was his mentor,” the father says with pride.

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