By Angela Davis, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people will come together to recognize the achievements of the Minneapolis Urban League at the 2011 Gateway To Opportunity Gala.

The agency opened here back in 1926 and is still going strong.

One person who exemplifies what the Urban League is doing to help turn lives around is Dameon Jones. As a construction worker, he knows how to fix things up, but he credits the Urban League with helping to fix him up.

Recently, the single father was homeless and starting to feel hopeless. Jones found what he needed at the league’s offices on Plymouth Avenue North.

“They made a way for me. They showed me love. The love they showed me gave me strength. The love I gave them back, gave me courage,” said Jones.

He enrolled in health and wellness classes, and also learned about personal finance, parenting, and job preparedness.

“This new gateway vision we have is transforming from a social service mindset to an economic empowerment mindset,” said Minneapolis Urban League president Scott Gray. “We want to make sure that the people who are coming through our doors are getting the type of skills to be independent.”

Even though he had experience remodeling houses, Jones still wasn’t earning a lot of money. It was an Urban League program that introduced Jones to the Carpenters Union and the training it offers.

Now he is working in commercial construction and making much more money in a union job.

“His work out here has been excellent. He’s been an asset to our team overall,” said project manager Jason Rahn.

Jones said the experience means “growth, for me and my child. Trying to start my own business with the knowledge they give me through classes, through the union. … It’s just excellent.”

The Minneapolis Urban League event is being held in two locations. The program is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

The keynote speaker is CNN political analyst Roland Martin. A reception follows at the Hilton Hotel.

Tickets are $100 per person.

Comments (10)
  1. JM says:

    Another Racist Organization. Everybody deserves a chance… not just minorities.

    1. Reasonable says:

      God forbid an organization tries to help get people out of a bad situation regardless of race.

      Good on this guy for making something of himself and learning to be a role model!

    2. MARK says:

      Where in this article does it say that the Urban League services only minorities? Let me help you; it doesn’t, because the Urban League helps urban communities in general and does not only help one group.

      So explain to me how it’s the UL that’s racist and not uniformed posters who inject race into a discussion where it does not belong?

      1. Karen says:

        Here is their mission statement.
        Mission Statement
        The Minneapolis Urban League links African descendants and other people of color to opportunities that result in economic success and prosperity, and effectively advocates for policies that eradicate racial disparities.

        1. MARK says:

          From the National Urban League website: Education and Youth Empowerment ensures the education of all children by providing access to early childhood literacy, after-care programs and college scholarships.

          Economic Empowerment invests in the financial literacy and employability of adults through job training, homeownership and entrepreneurship.

          Health and Quality of Life Empowerment promotes community wellness through a focus on prevention, including fitness, healthy eating and access to affordable healthcare.

          Civic Engagement and Leadership Empowerment encourages all people to take an active role to improve quality of life through participation in community service projects and public policy initiatives.

          Civil Rights and Racial Justice Empowerment guarantees equal participation in all facets of American society through proactive public policies and community-based programs.

          1. Karen says:

            Its saying that it insures all children, because they don’t think black and people of color are afforded the same opportunities. Its not saying it provides these services to ‘all’ children. Read the Mission statement off their website as I posted it. This organization is set up to receive minority contracts from MNDOT and the federal government.

            1. MARK says:

              Karen, I posted this not because I have interest in arguing about minorities and the UL, but because I don’t understand how people could object to their stated goals. They’re trying to help children in troubled urban areas, and I think that’s a noble goal no matter the color of the children.

  2. Benny says:

    I agree JM, pure plug for state funding and unions.

  3. tuna-free dolphin says:

    But mostly they just crank out angry black community organizers. Yeah, we need more of those.

  4. whatsreally says:

    The Urban League helps all people, as does the NAACP, and other civil rights organizations. Show some examples of these organizations denying help to people based on their race!

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