GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — One Graham barber is giving young men the tools they need to be successful and productive, so they don’t turn to a life of crime.
“I learned leadership, friendship, always appreciate what you have and be grateful,” Daylin Crawford said.
The 12-year-old is one of the hundreds of children who graduated from the Reach 1 Teach 1 program at Mc Rae’s Barber Shop in Graham.
Owner William McRae started the classes 13 years ago when he saw young men in his community needing mentors.
“Back in the day, it wasn’t as bad,” McRae said. “It was more focused on education stuff and fun stuff.”
That focus has now shifted to address the uptick in violent juvenile crime.
“Peer pressure…as far as gang violence, pressure into doing drug stuff and skipping school,” McRae said.
Every Monday night between February and May, the kids gather in the shop. People in the community give them advice on how to stay on the right path. They also take field trips, visit local colleges and participate in community service days.
“For some reason, it’s always the violence taking over, so we’re trying to change that narrative,” McRae said.
The goal is to get the kids off the streets and into the barbershop. McRae has volunteers who act as big brothers to these children, checking on them throughout the year and keeping them busy during the summer months.
“It’s boredom,” said Scott Drorbaugh, who is one of those mentors. “It’s not by accident that we see a lot more crime now over the summer with younger kids because they’re not in school.”
Drorbaugh is also an Alamance County prosecutor.
“It broke my heart,” he said. “I would see young folks–usually young men in juvenile court–and then a year or two later, I would see those same men in adult court.”
That cycle got him involved with Reach 1 Teach 1.
“We don’t even want them to get to that stage of having to even go to juvenile court,” he said. “I might not look and come from the same background they have, but here I am as a prosecutor saying we care about you.”
Both Drorbaugh and McRae are teaching kids like Crawford that no dream is too big.
“I want to be in the NBA and the NFL and a pilot,” Crawford said.
They’re there every step of the way to make sure they achieve those goals.
“Teach me how to be respectful and teach me how to act when I have that job,” Crawford said.
Ten children just graduated from this year’s eight-week program. It’s open to boys ages 10 to 18 free of charge.
McRae also provides transportation to and from the classes for those who need it. Applications for next year’s 12-week session will open in January.