LeGrand describes the work of Journeymen as planting seeds because they firmly believe that raising self-motivated, non-judgmental, and integrity-driven young men requires the collective effort of an entire community. While the mentors at Journeymen may plant the seeds, they recognize that supporting resilient, emotionally intelligent, and driven humans requires the support of dozens of people from diverse backgrounds across the communities where their students live and interact. They hope that the skills modeled in Journeymen groups and activities give the young men the confidence to put themselves into other new situations that can often be challenging.
Self-directed learning is one of the primary encouragements young men receive from mentors at Journeymen - which once again explains why they offer such a wide variety of programming. However, like most non-profits in Buncombe County- including United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County- their work relies on sustaining community ties and working collaboratively with the City and County School systems, local non-profits, and other similar programs. “United Way has given us so many opportunities to really get involved in the direct lives of these guys that might not have that opportunity otherwise,” said LeGrand as he reflected on the relationship between Journeymen and United Way. “The biggest way that we've seen these collaborations is being able to grow our programming, whether that be strictly financially or really letting us utilize their resources.”
Like much of our work, our collaborative efforts with Journeymen happens within our public schools. Several United Way Community School Coordinators have facilitated the relationships to make weekly mentor Journeymen groups a reality. The impact of Journeymen’s presence is evident to anyone who speaks to the school counselors or Community School Coordinators. Even teachers will often mention that their students repeatedly say that the days when they can go to the Journeymen group are often their favorite school days. Wilson attributes this to how the groups are facilitated. “We're not trying to push them towards something”, he says,” It's more of an out-breath — We see you, we're here together. Not like you have to achieve something to get our appreciation.”