ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A local nonprofit is mentoring young, Black children in the Asheville area, while also helping to stop community gun violence.
The organization is called My Daddy Taught Me That. It was founded by Asheville native Keynon Lake, who is also a former social worker for Buncombe County.
Recently, he’s been going door-to-door with other community leaders to spread awareness about a new initiative to keep young kids away from guns.
“This is my community. These are my neighbors. These are my people,” Lake says. “So, if I can’t get out here and do it, who will?”
He often brings his 5-year-old daughter, Layla, to help her understand the importance of serving the community.
“Hopefully this can be a learning experience for her, and when she’s older, she can look back on this and say, ‘I was out in those communities helping out,'” Lake says.
When he’s not walking the streets of Asheville, he is at the My Daddy Taught Me That headquarters inside the Asheville Mall. Three times a week, he picks up the 15-20 boys in the program and gives them money so they can eat.
“This has been my life for the last, almost, nine years now,” Lake says.
He often partners with other organizations and brings in guest speakers to mentor the kids on things like the importance of education or maintaining a professional appearance. To help with that, the kids get free haircuts whenever they meet for sessions.
“Also to have their voices heard, so our young men can have people to talk to,” he says.
Lake says he is proud of the young men who have come through the program and moved on to college and a good life. He hopes to continue transforming the lives of Asheville’s young, Black boys to keep them off the street and on a good path.