Young Men of Integrity Wins State Award for Community Collaboration

NC Council of Community Programs, Excellence Awards 2010-11
Pinehurst, NC, December 3, 2010

Exodus Homes Executive Director Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Young Men of Integrity Founding Director Chris Johnson, The Cognitive Connection CEO Kathy Clay, and Mental Health Partners Area Director John HardyYoung Men of Integrity, a mentoring program of United Way agency Exodus Homes, recently won recognition for its excellence in community collaboration from the N.C. Council of Community Programs.  The Council of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse programs was incorporated in 1982 as a nonprofit association dedicated to helping its member area programs improve their service quality and management effectiveness. It held an awards day on December 3, 2010 in Pinehurst N.C. attended by representatives from all across the state, including four from Catawba County.

The program was nominated for the award by Kathy Clay, CEO of The Cognitive Connection, and John Hardy, Area Director of Mental Health Partners. Young Men of Integrity provides mentoring services to 35 at risk youth ages 10 – 19 in partnership with the two agencies under the umbrella of Exodus Homes as its parent organization. The program is a model of community collaboration by working with numerous organizations to give the youth, their parents, and volunteer mentors opportunities to participate in community service projects, educational activities, career exploration, cultural enrichment experiences, and recreation with an emphasis on drug free living. For example, last summer the young men volunteered to read to younger children at Centro Latino for a cross cultural experience that emphasized the importance of learning.

Chris Johnson graduated from the Exodus Homes program in 2006 and soon founded the new mentoring program to help young men not fall into the trap of drug addiction as he had done. 19 year old Phrank Moses lived at Exodus Homes from 1999-2001 with his mother and was one of the first young men to enter the Young Men of Integrity program in 2006. Today he is a shining example of the effectiveness of the program, and a testament to Chris Johnson’s ability to lead young men into a life of accomplishment and integrity. Phrank was president of the Key Club and named a Hero of Hickory at Hickory High in 2009. Today he is attending CVCC studying criminal justice on a full scholarship from Kiwanis Club.

Young Men of integrity has partnered with the United Way Youth Council, the Christmas Bureau, the Charity Chase, Catawba Valley Rotary Club, Boy Scouts of America, the Health Department, Council on Adolescents, Hickory Parks and Recreation, Hickory Public Schools, the Western Piedmont Symphony, Viewmont Baptist Church, the NC State Martin Luther King Commission, Samaritans Feet, and many others.
Chris Johnson gave credit to his numerous community partners, and most importantly to the youth themselves who have worked very hard to serve, learn, and grow individually and collectively. “My young men are becoming the leaders of tomorrow, and it is my privilege to be a part of their life. I am especially grateful for Exodus Homes, The Cognitive Connection, and Mental Health Partners for supporting the Young Men of Integrity. All of our partner organizations want us to expand, and we look forward to bigger and better programs in the days to come.“

For more information, contact:  Chris Johnson, Founding Director, Young Men of Integrity 828-228-4110 or