top of page

A MAN UP Christmas Story

December 21, 2023

The Triumphant Journey of One of Our Very First
Mentee Mr. Anns Marceus

D43B5FE2-73E7-4728-A4A1-A16AB234302F.jpeg

By:  Jatika Hudson

IMG_2227.jpeg

In a neighborhood marred with gun violence and a high concentration of residents without a high school diploma; being the oldest of 11 children and raised by a single immigrant mother, many would think the hand this former mentee was dealt was unfair, but with the help of MAN UP Mentoring (MAN UP) this young man was determined to beat the odds and rise above his circumstances. This is the triumphant journey of Anns Marceus, MAN UP’s first mentee to graduate high school and complete the at-risk youth mentoring program.

 

While driving along his trucking route to make a cross-country delivery, he found the time to discuss the impact MAN UP has on his life. Speaking in a way that forces you to listen, his words were calculated as well as intentional and thanks to MAN UP, he’s been able to allow that demeanor to trickle over into other areas of his life.

 

He began attending MAN UP at the tender age of 15 and remained active until he was 20 years old, since then five of his brothers have participated in the program. Two have completed the program and three of his younger brothers are currently enrolled in MAN UP.  It is evident the organization has been a lifeline to his family.

 

Marceus recalls how much it meant to him for MAN UP’s co-founder, Chris Wallace, to come through his community to pick him up along with several of his friends and give them alternatives to the troublesome activities they often witnessed daily.

 

“He used to come get us every Wednesday night and we used to pray and have youth service at First Baptist of Orlando with youth from a very different neighborhood and lifestyle, looking back it was showing us that there was more to life, everyone wasn’t living the same way we were,” he recalls. This was his introduction to MAN UP and he knew he’d found an outlet to a fuller, more positive future.

 

By 2015, MAN UP was meeting weekly in Ivey Lane Homes on Thursday nights. He vividly remembers what he most enjoyed was he was able to be a child; nothing was required of him and his friends but to invest in themselves.

 

One gesture of support that Marceus will always hold dear is when Jeff Baskin, a former mentor of MAN UP stepped in and showed him that there are people in the world who just want to see you be a kid and that you can be rewarded for honesty. Today, he holds it as one of his fondest memories of his life. Baskin also showed Marceus other ways to make a living to avoid neighborhood activities that can lead to unwanted results.

 

Marceus recalls when Baskin, known as “Mr. Jeff”, helped him after his mother let him know that she wasn’t able to get what he needed for his Senior Prom. Baskin gave him the financial support that he needed for his attire and everything else for a night that he’ll never forget. “Thank you just isn’t enough, you know,” he says. “I had a really good time and I looked and felt great too.” He expressed his gratitude for Baskin’s trust, support and taking him under his wing. Through MAN UP Marceus learned the significance of being trustworthy and appreciative, it opens the doors for unexpected blessings.

 

At the age of 27, Anns is now a father of two boys (ages five and one) and a long-distance truck driver for Magnum Trucking, Inc. Being a long-distance truck driver allows him to see numerous states and cities across the country. He shared the farthest distance he’s driven is to South Dakota. Driving has opened up his world to new surroundings. His favorite state to pass through is Tennessee due to its beautiful scenery and mountain views.

 

Marceus has been blessed enough to find a way out of his troubled neighborhood without becoming a part of the street life that he grew up seeing. “There’s more to life than just seeing how the drug dealers in the neighborhood come through," he shared. “You can get that car or house by learning a trade, working consistently or starting your own business.”

 

Today, he says that he still mentions MAN UP to others who might be in search of programs for their children, siblings, family and/or friends. Even today, he views Carl Wallace, the elder Mr. Wallace (the family patriarch), as well as Chris Wallace, the organization’s co-founder, and Mr. Jeff as father figures. He credits them as role models for providing the blueprint needed to raise his sons.

 

“In my environment, it’s easy to lose focus and think ‘I don’t want to go to school’ or ‘I don’t have to go to school’ but once you quit, you fail yourself and giving up on yourself is never an option,” he said. Today, Marceus still lives by those key life lessons MAN UP taught him and plans to pass them on to his sons.

 

Our dialogue ended with him saying, he would love to see MAN UP grow and expand with hopes that the youth involved, take in all the life lessons and new experiences  afforded to them through this community-based organization. He’s living proof that taking the lessons to heart and applying them to your life actually works.

 

About MAN UP Mentoring, Inc:

 

MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. (MAN UP) is community-based 501c (3) organization and an affiliate of My Brother’s Keeper Orlando primarily serving at-risk youth ages 11 through completion of high school or the equivalent across Metro 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 Christopher and Samantha Wallace. Currently, it is managed by an executive director, 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. Visit manupmentoring.com

IMG_2228.jpeg
bottom of page