We celebrate the culture all year long, but we’re highlighting some incredible people in the community for Black history month. Meet Ashton Burrell.
Ashton founded the Hometownheroclub and Live Mentorship Program (LMP) while a sophomore at Lincoln University in 2011. LMP provides mentoring to youth between ages 9 – 19 from various walks of life and cultures in New Jersey.
Ashton formed a life-changing bond with the young people, and his program has maintained a 100% graduation, and over 3000 students were assisted and inspired to graduate from high school.
Ashton organized social justice marches and rallies as well as been an advocate for judicial equity. In addition, he pushed for corporations to practice fair and diverse hiring processes. Ashton received numerous awards, including the Johnson and Johnson MLK Community Service Award, the NAACP New Brunswick Branch President’s Award, the Spread the Word 2nd Annual Humanitarian Award, the Highland Park MLK Humanitarian Award, and many others. He was recently awarded the 2020 New Jersey Governors Jefferson Award for Innovator and Founder of the Live Mentorship Program.
We spoke with Ashton to get to know him more. Take a look:
How are you making a difference in your community during Black History Month?
I am making a difference during this month by continuing to try to improve myself and help where I can. Improving myself can help me be a better person within my community. Speaking to people I may not usually talk to or learn things I wouldn’t usually have attention for. These things help me expand my mind and understanding of life and myself as a black man living through and in history.
What motivated you to inspire the youth?
Many people inspire me coming up, which is probably the biggest reason. There are so many of our young people who are hurting and need adults to step up and nurture them properly. Since I didn’t see this happening, I took it into my own hands and said I’ll step up and do it. So I prayed on it and let GOD take me from there. Each encounter I have with the youth is just more motivation to add to the motivation that’s already here.
What is your mission? What do you hope to achieve?
My mission is to open up people’s minds, eyes, and understandings of this thing we call life. So many factors and layers make up our everyday living, and we all must understand them. I hope to positively impact anything I do or put out to the world. If someone or something is inspired for the right thing from my work, I’ve achieved everything I needed to.
Who helped you along the way?
I was helped by so many different people throughout my life. Even if it wasn’t a positive interaction, I still learned from it. My mother instilled in me many of my everyday movements. She’s definitely one of the most instrumental people in helping me along the way. From learning to stay solid, be unselfish, keep your respect, and how to pray.
What’s one thing in the world (the black community) you want to change?
I would want to change people’s perception of how we view life right now. With social media and false visuals, people intake daily, I think it causes more significant problems than we see at the moment.
How do you plan on making that happen?
I plan on making that happen by continuing to better myself and trying my best to improve where I need to. If I do that and spread that to who’s around me, I pray that can become contagious to others.
What do you have coming up in the community?
- Saturday February 26th at 7pm I’m hosting a free virtual game night.
- Every Tuesday we have a free food pantry at the center I am the director of. The food program is free and anonymous and located in central New Jersey.
- I have different free summer programs launching for the youth as well. In June, I will also be having our annual Hometown Hero Club “shoot hoops tot guns” basketball game in Atlanta, GA.