Over 50 years of combined experience
Left to Right : R.Dixon A.Hendricks, A. Meadows, and W. Pettiford
R.Dixon is the head of Self-Defense has a long background in Military and law Enforcement. Mr.Dixon does a great job teaching our youth that self-defense begins with the mind and not with the hands. Mr.Dixon makes regular home and school visits to check on the progress of our youth.
A.Hendricks is our Community and Intake Coordinator he has a long history in Case management and Corrections. Mr. Hendricks is awesome mentor that shares relatable struggles of his life to our boys and he goes above and beyond keeping our young men in uniform.
A.Meadows is our Academic Specialist and has over 10 years as a Public School teacher. Mr.Meadows does a excellent job reaching out to the teachers of our boys to see what assistance is needed and to see what issues need to be addressed.
W.Pettiford is our Gang Historian and the facilitator of empowerment sessions, he has over 20 years experience in Gang Culture. He uses his life experiences combined with research to teach and motivate our youth.
T.Vincent (not pictured) of Ready4Change handles all counseling services and has been phenomenal handling all of our transportation, making school visits and a providing a listening ear to our youth.
How It All Began (documentary)
VOTS, a mentoring organization for young African-American males, was founded in 2014 by Willie Pettiford, Sr. The genesis of the organization initially becoming a mentoring program began after coming off of trial in 2011 after nearly being sentenced to 22 years in prison. After college life became extremely difficult, Willie Pettiford began to reflect on his life and quickly realized that he wasted years trying to prove to the "homies" that he was "all in." He thought that the only powerful brotherhood that young black men could have was through joining a street gang. He knew all too well the ins and outs of Gang Culture like no other as he was affiliated in the gang life for several years from the tender age of eight years old. But ultimately, Pettiford came to the realization that he simply wasted years traveling down the wrong path. At this moment of revelation, he made a conscious decision to start educating and empowering young men within a supportive group setting. This is how the birth of such a powerful organization of brotherhood came into existence. Unlike street brotherhoods (gangs), VOTS constantly strives to keep young boys away from delinquent behaviors and prison by educating them--focusing on freedom and not bondage. All this work for one man became extremely difficult, which caused Willie to turn kids away because it was only so much one man could do.
In 2017, while having a discussion over lunch with some other gentlemen, Pettiford began discussing how gang activity had risen to a all time high in the recent years in the Triad area. It wasn't just the notorious street gangs that was the only threat. The emerging conflicts between streets and neighborhoods clicking up going against other streets and neighborhoods was quickly growing.
Over 80 percent of these crimes being reported were being done by adolescent black males. As fathers around the table, these statistics were mind boggling. Black males only make up 6.8 percent of the nation's population, but why are they the most talked about in time of controversy?
Willie presented the idea for each of the gentlemen at the meeting to bring their own interests and backgrounds on board, and from then on, they never looked back. From 2017 to 2018, over one hundred young men have been empowered, and to this presnet day, that number still continues to rise.
With over forty years of combined experience, VOTS is an organization of role models that is more than experienced to empower and put forth the effort to reshape the minds of young black men. "It is not our job to change one's life, but it is our mission to reshape and empower one's mind."