Young Business Men

Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Young Business Men, YBM

A few years ago member Amy T came to me and asked if I would be willing to help out a local organization called Young Business Men (YBM) which was looking for a place to train a couple nights a week. I'm always willing to help if I'm able and in this case they would come in after the gym had closed and would help clean the place as payment. And so it went for years while we were at our old locations. They'd come use the space after hours and I'd only really see them on my way out at the end of the night. I couldn't say I knew much about them then. Since moving into Jefferson I've had a chance to meet and train with these guys and get to know the story of the organization in more detail.

The story starts with a guy named Athrettis Brown. He goes by Thrett. In his youth, Thrett was up to no good. He was raised in Louisiana and transferred to Tacoma in his late teens where he stuck to what he knew, which was drugs and gangs. His South Tacoma apartment was on the second story and had a long outdoor staircase. One day his friend was slinging drugs down below while Thrett sat at the top, when the police came and busted them both. The friend for dealing, Thrett for not taking action to stop his friend. Apparently that's a big deal because they hit him with a sentence of 5 years (or maybe it was 8, I have both numbers in my head). In prison he made a life decision that he didn't want to be doing this anymore. He refused to ally with any of the prison gangs and was only left alone due to the favor of a leader of the Crips who was willing to let Thrett pass if he would reach out to his nephew when he got out and try to keep the kid out of the swirling vortex that is the world of crime, gangs, and the criminal justice system.

Upon his release, Thrett did just that. And in so doing he found a new focus for his life- reaching out to young men in crisis, who need guidance and help. Early on he was given a crash course in this when he all but adopted his three teenage nephews. Think about that for a sec, single man in his late 20's not long after 5 years in prison, all of a sudden caring for and living with three teen boys. I had trouble adjusting to a weird roommate in college, this takes that into a whole new dimension.

He started his own 501(c)(3) organization, calling it Young Business Men (YBM). Using his family connections within Stadium and Lincoln, they started finding and reaching out to more young men. If you click the link to their site, you can see their organizational objectives. Some of this comes in the form meetings on school campuses and off, thrice weekly physical exercise, and homework. One day last summer I saw a group of them running down my street throwing a football around. My impression is that there is also a lot of unstructured activity.

When I asked Thrett why he valued fitness so much that he made it a key objective for YBM, his answer, to paraphrase, was that training brings people together in addition to all the physical benefits. Many of us can relate to that. After 5+ years of running a gym I've seen how training provides a common task, a shared goal around which we interact and connect, thereby building friendships.

Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Young Business Men

As I said at the outset, my connection is by providing a space for them to train three nights a week (Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 PM and Sunday at 7:30 PM). And in the past two months I've been able to work out with them pretty regularly. I didn't know what to expect, what I found was just a group of friends working out together. Take any stereotypes about “troubled youth” out of your mind, these guys are all there. Well, as “all there” as a room of teenagers can ever be. I'll be starting a business-mentorship program with them soon, trying to help fulfill the mission of fostering entrepreneurship.

I didn't really have a purpose to writing this beyond wanting to tell you about an amazing locally-grown organization doing the critical work of helping young men (and women) one relationship at a time. But now that I'm thinking about it, I have some ideas for what might help if you feel so inspired.

So there you are: local boy makes good by turning his life around and helping those in need. Contribute to the cause if you want to, otherwise enjoy the story. It's a good one.

Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Young Business Men

By Morgan on Wednesday, April, 16, 2014