Melton's Remembered For Work With Youth - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 05/07/09

Melton remembered for work with youth

By David Kenney - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Jackson Mayor Frank Melton will be greatly remembered for dedicating much of his life to helping the youth of Jackson. He spent much of his time outside of politics at the Farish Street Y.M.C.A..  

Over the years, that Y.M.C.A. had become a second home for Melton.  Rashard Johnson is a shining example of the result of Melton's dedication to providing youth with a role model the could look up to.

"Frank impacted my life tremendously. he sent me through college, full academic scholarship -  just a tremendous blessing in my life. I really appreciate what he did. I was his neighbor for 16-17 years; I've grown up with him. I've seen what he's done for the youth," says Johnson.

Rashard is following even further in Melton's footsteps, working at the same Farish Street Y, mentoring kids, teaching them how to swim, and providing an alternative to the streets.

It was in the early 80's when Melton began his mission to help Jackson's youth, taking gang members on retreats to Texas, helping them settle differences in hopes of reducing violence on the streets of the capital city.

Captain Victor Mason, with the Hinds County Sheriff's Office, says, "He made me realize when we had this deal with the gangs was that these are kids; these are not just criminals."

Mason, who was with the J.P.D. gang unit then, worked closely with Melton on his mentoring missions. Over the years, Melton even adopted some of the children, but some, he couldn't save.

Mason says, "When we would bury one, it would affect him, it would really get to him, because he would get attached to them, and take them home ,and he would look at them as his very own."

Those close to the late Mayor say he was most happy when surrounded by children.

Jara Miller, Director of Family and Children Services at the Y.M.C.A. says, "He really just wanted to give back to the community and to the kids, and let them know there was something out in life besides what they see in the neighborhoods. They had choices to make; they didn't need to get lured by the drugs and the violence."

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