Senior Safety Pride Day 2014 honors living legacy in Twin Cities

It was a muggy but otherwise ideal afternoon for the 13th Annual Senior Safety Pride Day, Friday, August 15 at Boom Island in Minneapolis.Sponsored by Mad Dads of Minneapolis, Phillips West, Center Point Energy, Community Action and others, the event served more than 300 seniors with grilled food, games and prizes, and live entertainment. The celebration also included a mini-resource fair, where community organizations provided information about safety, health and wellness, and economic services available in the community.Among the attendees this year were the Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes, the Jolly Seniors, Minneapolis 4th Precinct Police Inspector Mike Kjos, Public Safety and Civil Rights Policy Aide to Mayor Hodges, Nicole Archbold, and many more. Crowd favorites, the Sabathani Still Kickin’ Dancers, got things moving, eventually inspiring some in the crowd to brave the humidity and learn some new steps.Seniors have a special place in the heart of VJ Smith, President and Local Founder of Mad Dads, and the event is his way of giving back. “It feels good to honor our seniors,” said Smith. “If you think of how we got where we are today, it’s only because of them. Continue Reading

Minneapolis MAD DADS make a difference

You might notice them first by the bright green t-shirts they wear on the bus, but the MAD DADS do more than just ride the Metro Transit lines. “We have a lot of programs,” said V.J. Smith, founder of the MAD DADS Minneapolis chapter, “We do street outreach, men’s empowerment, transition out of prison, community service projects, intervention programs, parent-youth relationships, and Boy Scout mentorship.”Smith founded the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS, or Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, on October 3, 1998.“In 1996 and 1997, I was going through a lot of negative things in my life—abusing drugs and alcohol. But then I got connected to God and I wanted to give back to the streets because I came from the streets,” Smith explained, “So we started a chapter of MAD DADS in Minneapolis and hit the streets.”The original MAD DADS was founded in May 1989 by a group of concerned African-American men and parents in Omaha, Nebraska who were tired of seeing their community plagued with gang violence and illegal drugs. The founders presented themselves as positive role models against the negative forces destroying children, families, and neighborhoods.Last year, MAD DADS founder and national president, Eddie Stanton, died of cancer. Smith, who has received numerous awards for founding an exemplary Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter, was appointed to succeed Stanton as president of the national organization. The Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter was formed to mobilize strong, drug-free men of faith to reclaim their neighborhood, one child at a time. They have expanded to include a “Mom’s Division” as well.MAD DADS mobile outreach unit (Photo by Michelle Tran) “It’s been a beautiful thing. Continue Reading