PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Norristown Men of Excellence is a non-profit made up of Black men who grew up together in the Norristown area, went to college and came back home.
“We saw the need to give back here, so we stood up to make a difference,” says Ernest “Tre” Hadrick, who founded the group in 2011. Hadrick is a school counselor at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy in Norristown. The North Carolina A&T State University grad handpicked the members of NMOE, many of whom he’s known since middle school and have since grown up and become successful.
“With some of the negative images that you have an hear about in Norristown we try to change that and get positive attention,” he says.
Most of the men are married and are fathers. They pay dues and raised money for NMOE. They work together to organize and manage an annual football clinic for roughly 100 kids, a turkey drive to feed roughly 200 Norristown families, a scholarship fund for youth and a black tie event that builds bridges between Norristown’s largely Black and Latino Community.
“We believe we have helped build more community collaboration,” says Kirklyn Berry, vice president of NMOE. “It gives the community another opportunity to be more tight knit that it is.”
The men, who are business owners, educators, corporate leaders and managers and more also serve as examples of community accountability.
“Sometimes people just need to see to believe,” says Troy Swittenburg, NMOE corresponding secretary.
The group’s impact expands to thousands in just a few short years.
“I want us all to come together,” says Percy Jones, a NMOE board member and coach. “We can all work together.”
Their goal — change the game one mind at a time.
“Maybe one day it just won’t be a Norristown men of excellence, but a Bucks County Men of Excellence or Gloucester County Men of Excellence,” says Swittenburg.