by Mary Wood Ohiku
The outside looks like any other house, but to Riverwest youth, The Street Academy of Cream City Mentors Incorporated is home. Located at 2438 N. Bremen Street, the Cream City Mentors is run by Supreme Solar Allah, 23; Self Wise Allah, 24; Universal Knowledge Allah, 25; and Charles Dennis, 50.
“Our program is based on a sincere love for seeing people succeed and overcoming challenges and obstacles in their lives,” Self Wise said.
While the Cream City Mentors group was established in 1999, the group of young black males, (although Self Wise is bi-racial), has always been involved with neighborhood children.
Spending time with children through one-on-one activity, both academic and social, allows the mentors to explore and uncover the needs of the Riverwest youth they work with, Self Wise said. The mentors help with schoolwork, act as tutors, plan trips, and share wisdom with these individuals. The depth of their community involvement eventually led to the development of the Cream City Mentors organization.
Their names are as unique as the miracles produced by the non-profit mentorship program. “Our names are reflective of our culture…our way of life,” Supreme Solar said. “We each chose our own names for personal and specific reasons that reflect how we view ourselves.”
The organization reaches out to children in two age brackets: 12-14 and 15-17. “The age groups are divided because teenagers are on different levels,” Self Wise said. “Younger teens are still sorting things out for themselves, while older teens are going through a transition to adulthood.”
The Cream City Mentors have three main goals: Citizenship, Exposure, and Empowerment. “The goal of citizenship is to get young individuals to recognize they are citizens and they have rights and responsibilities,” Supreme Solar said. “We want to teach them they can utilize the government to improve their lives because that’s the way it was set up for them.”
Their second goal, exposure, is to introduce the youth to a world outside their immediate surroundings and allow them to explore other communities through trips to a number of places throughout Milwaukee, such as the Art Museum and Black Holocaust Museum.
Their final goal, empowerment, addresses the importance of self-esteem, recognition of individual talents, and knowledge of self. Through that knowledge, young people can take control of their lives and work to improve their situations.
In addition to these goals, the mentors promote guidance, friendship, creativity, self-confidence, and positivity to enhance the life of the community.
Self Wise, the group’s program coordinator, plans a variety of field trips for the youth to expose them to creativity and provide them with opportunities they are usually denied. He grew up in various parts of Milwaukee but has resided in Riverwest for the past 12 years.
Supreme Solar is an advertising major at UW-Milwaukee and serves as the group’s community coordinator. He works to foster relationships with community organizations, conveying to public entities the kind of work the group does.
Universal Knowledge, the youth coordinator, is in charge of enrollment. He collects recommendations from parents, friends, and community members regarding whom to enroll at Cream City.
Charles Dennis, executive director, oversees the entire operation with warm eyes and a gentle smile. His presence is more powerful than a great oak standing alone in an open field. He is the root of The Cream City Mentors.
“Charles was a role model and mentor to us growing up,” Self Wise said. “His leadership helped us recognize how beneficial it was to have someone to look up to other than a parent.”
The Cream City Mentors are available to help young men and women of any creed or color in need of direction, guidance, and love. Anyone interested in enrollment may contact Self, Supreme, Universal, or Charles at 372-7584.
Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 9 – October 2002