Steve’s Story: Changing the Narrative for Boys of Color

Steve Petrey grew up in Louisville in an east end neighborhood that he says was lily-white. “I only heard the stereotypical negatives about black people when I was a kid…I feel like young black men today in our community are still hearing the same things and I want to change that.”

The 63-year-old is one of the few white males that is a mentor with 2NOT1: Fatherhood and Families, Inc. – one of Metro United Way’s Black Male Achievement partners committed to improving outcomes for boys and men of color in our community.

Steve says by just talking, listening and spending time together he has earned the trust of the boys (and their parents) who are part of 2NOT1’s “Rites of Passage,” which is a program for middle and high school aged boys that covers life skills and conflict management. The Rites of Passage program activities are designed to enhance the lives of inner city youth by exposing them to nature and new life experiences. Through fishing, gardening, camping and hunting, the boys learn the skills they need to be successful in school, work and life.

“Steve recognized the need to support inner city communities, and he wanted to offer his support in a way that did not appear that he was trying to take over or interfere,” said Dr. Georgia Turner, Director of 2NOT1: Fatherhood and Families. “He built trusting relationships, and he got involved!”

As a Rites of Passage mentor, Steve has shared his engineering, gardening and planting experience with the boys. He finds fun and innovative ways to share his knowledge and experience with them. To Steve, this his small way of changing the narrative when it comes to boys of color.

“I’ve been welcome in the west end and have built a lot of trust with the young men I mentor and others appreciate my efforts to do something,” said Steve. “I have made a lot of friends – people who will be my friends for the rest of my life.”

His advice to someone that wants to make a difference in our community, “Don’t buy into the negative false narratives and just listen to one another. The negative stereotypes have been out there for so long and there’s true economic disadvantages that need to be addressed.”

This is a perfect example when someone’s experience and passion match a volunteer opportunity. There are lots of ways to raise your hand in our community. Volunteer to mentor (including BMA opportunities) or search our volunteer database.

Thank you, Steve for being a hand raiser and game changer!

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