‘Toledo’s Got Talent’ set for Aug. 26Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Toledoans can see at least 10 different local acts and help young people at Toledo’s Got Talent on Aug. 26.
The event features Jae Fame, Huntor Prey, Krystal Monique, Touch A Dream Dance Studio, JJ Express and more. It will benefit the Maturing Young Men group and Family House. Several promoters will be there to see the performers, said Major Smith Jr., the executive director of Maturing Young Men.
Maturing Young Men aims to keep young men off the street with positive activities gives them healthy role models. It was started in 2010 after Smith’s son Joseph James, now 14, said he wanted to do something for the young men in his community and family who were always in trouble.
“[Maturing Young Men is] there to give them a different option, give them a chance to change whatever path they’re going on,” Smith said. Joseph James serves as the group’s president and founder. Smith’s older son Major Smith III is the vice president while his sister Alexis serves as the public relations liaison. Their mother Alicia is the program coordinator.
In addition to mentoring and scheduling college tours, the group provides ballroom dancing at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Frederick Douglass Community Center.
“[The young men are] really attracted by something so elegant and so prestigious as ballroom dancing,” Smith said. The group’s female counterpart, Aspiring Young Women, also attends.
Smith has received positive feedback from the young men involved. “Their continued participation shows us they appreciate the group and they’ve expressed how it gives them an opportunity to stay out of trouble,” he said.
While the group does plenty to help local youth, the Smiths decided they wanted to help a more specific subset of kids. About a year ago, they attended a concert put on by singer Kem in Detroit. The Grammy-nominated artist used to be homeless and donated proceeds to charity groups.
At KEM’s concert, the Smiths met a 14-year-old who they later learned was homeless. Smith’s oldest son wanted to do something to help and Toledo’s Got Talent was born.
“It kind of touched our group. It kind of saddened us because he was such a nice young man,” Smith said. He said youth homelessness is often not addressed because, technically, it’s against the law for children to leave home. The group had a difficult time finding an organization that helped homeless youth to donate proceeds to. However, Smith found Family House, which provides homeless families with housing and services. Seventy percent of clients are younger than 18, according to Family House’s website.
Tickets for Toledo’s Got Talent are $10. The event starts at 5 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Ottawa Park Amphitheatre. For more information, call (419) 944-8924 or visit Maturing Young Men on Facebook.