ORLANDO – My Childhood Mentoring Story Part I, is a series introducing the founders of the youth mentoring organizations participating in the inaugural NW Orlando Mentor & Volunteer Recruitment Fair on Thursday, October 26th at Ivey Lane Park Recreation Center from 5p.m. to 7pm.
The third Q&A in this series features Mr. Nicholas “Nick” Solomon, the founder and executive director of the King Solomon Foundation (KSF). The mission of KSF is to improve the quality of life for youth who face delinquency, abandonment, poor academics, and many other facets that decrease their chances of becoming productive and sound individuals. KSF is achieving their mission by encouraging their mentees to live a life of distinction and to be men and women of valor.
A graduate of Evans High School, Solomon went on to attend the great Bethune-Cookman University. A former juvenile probation officer, he lives by the motto “Enter to Learn; Depart to Serve,” by Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune. Let’s discover more about Solomon’s inspiring journey.
MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. (MU): Who was your mentor as a teen or young adult?
Nick Solomon (NS): As a teen I participated in a college readiness program through UCF. Through that program, I met Marshall White.
MU: How did they most influence your life?
NS: Mr. White exposed me to different things that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to, including college and fraternity life. He played a pivotal role in me pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
MU: Why did you choose them to mentor you?
NS: I gravitated toward Marshall because I saw someone who looked like me. A black male who was successful and respected.
MU: What was a turning point or defining moment that changed the course of your life?
NS: College!! I attended the great Bethune-Cookman University. Hail Wildcats!
MU: What was the hardest lesson you learned early on?
NS: That racism exists. Unfortunately, I experienced it firsthand when I lived in Alabama.
MU: How have you learned to navigate this harsh reality? And most importantly, how are you teaching your mentees to do so?
NS: For me, I must stay true to my core values. I teach our mentees they too must remain true to themselves and be respectful towards others despite how people with ill intentions move around you.
MU: What words of wisdom did your mentor share with you that you are still applying today?
NS: To never give up and follow my dreams.
MU: What makes your organization unique or sets you apart from other at-risk youth mentoring programs?
NS: Our staff members and supporters care and are passionate about the work we do. What’s even more unique is we have established a lifetime bond with the participants of our programs. We’re in this for the long haul.
MU: How has your community perspective changed or shifted after volunteering or working with at-risk youth?
NS: It shifted once I realized there are people in the very community you serve that, don’t believe in nor support a cause you deem worthy. Having a goal, strategy, and good intentions to do great things doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else will care or support those ideas.
MU: In six words or less, describe the overall significance of mentoring at-risk youth.
NS: Transforming lives from ordinary to royalty.
About King Solomon Foundation: On January 18, 2008, the King Solomon Foundation (KSF) was founded in Orlando, FL by Nicholas J. Solomon to mentor and guide at- risk youth ages 12- 26. The purpose of KSF is to provide programs that focus on life skills training, health awareness, and academic support. To learn more please visit, www.iam-royalty.org and follow us @ksfdn
About MAN UP Mentoring, Inc: MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. is community-based non-profit 501c(3) charity organization primarily serving at-risk youth ages 11 through completion of high school or the equivalent across Orlando, with a focus on delinquency prevention and intervention by providing social, educational and mentoring services. Established in 2014 by Orlando natives, brother and sister duo Chris and Samantha Wallace. Currently, it is managed by an executive director, professional contractors and a full-time staff of volunteers. MAN UP is overseen by a Board of Directors with more than 150 years of law enforcement and civilian experience, as well as advisors from the Orange County Public-school System and social services.