Voicing needs of today’s youth is topic of April 10 presentation

April 2, 2012
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

Gregory L. Williams, president and CEO of the Evans, Ga.-based non-profit The Males Advocating Change (TMAC, Inc.), will speak to area youth, parents and community leaders during a visit to Maryville College scheduled for April 10.

“Teaching Responsibility As YOU Voice OUR Needs” is the title of the 7 p.m. presentation that will be held in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

The presentation is free and open to the public and is expected to focus on signs that youth are sending parents, communities and schools but are going unnoticed or ignored.

Launched in 1995, TMAC, Inc. is an affiliate of the Tracy McGrady Foundation. Its mission is to “provide youth with the essential skills and motivation to become successful and productive members of our global community.”

According to TMAC’s website, the program teaches youth the knowledge and skills necessary to “increase self-esteem and self awareness, increase effective decision-making skills and enhance positive problem-solving skills.”

Williams was previously a special education counselor in Augusta, Ga., and master trainer for Youth Crime Watch of America. He started Augusta’s first YWCA community initiative for young women in 1995, and he also founded Females Advocating Change Together (F.A.C.T.). From 1999 until 2002, he directed the “She Got Game” basketball exposure camp, which was organized to give female basketball players the opportunity to be seen by collegiate coaches.

Today, Williams serves as deputy director of operations for the Tracy McGrady Foundation and directs the Tracy McGrady Basketball Camps.

McGrady, a professional athlete who has played with the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors, is chairman of TMAC Inc.’s board of directors.

Visit funded by Bonners

The April 10 visit is being funded through the Maryville College Bonner Scholars’ Community Fund.

Bonner Scholar and Maryville College senior Janean Strobert '12 was mentored by Williams as a youth in Savannah, Ga.

“I met Mr. Williams in 2001 at St. Pius Boys and Girls Club, where he was hosting a tryout for his Girls’ AAU team, the Lady Crusaders,” Strobert explained. “Soon after I become a member of the team, Mr. Williams became a mentor and father figure to me, helping me build character, confidence and skills as I embarked on a journey to become a successful student-athlete.

“From day one, Mr. Williams has been in my corner, supporting me every step of the way. During my high school years, he helped guide me through a prestigious pageant, in which I won the title Miss Beach 2005, along with the tough times in my development as a young woman and spokesperson for my community,” she said. “Ultimately with his program, I earned my first full basketball scholarship in 2005 to Bevill State Community College in Fayette, Ala.”

She also became a member of F.A.C.T. and a lifelong member of TMAC, Inc.

Because of Williams’ background in education and his experience with children, Strobert said she thought her mentor would be a “great speaker” for the Maryville and Alcoa communities.

“I thought he could help assist in educating children about the dangers of the world in which we currently live,” she said. “I also felt he would be a great candidate to speak with MC students who will be pursuing occupations in education and non-profits.”

It was during a Bonner Scholars retreat in early February that Strobert shared with her peers the impact that Williams and his program had on her life.

According to Preston Fields, Maryville College director of community engagement, when Strobert expressed interest in bringing Williams to Maryville, Bonners voted to make it happen with their Community Fund money, which is a pool of student-controlled money used for grants at their service sites.

“[Bonner Scholars] hope to both introduce Mr. Williams to many of the kids they serve, and to learn from Mr. Williams themselves,” Fields said.

In addition to the evening presentation and a lunch visit with Maryville College students, Williams will speak to three groups of students at Vine Middle School in Knoxville and with students enrolled in the Martin Luther King Center program and Richard Williams Youth Leadership Academy.

For more information about TMAC, visit www.tmac1995.org.

Questions about the April 10 presentation should be directed to Preston Fields at 865.981.8122 or preston.fields@maryvillecollege.edu.