Bridging the Gap

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1In this interview, I sat down with, Founder/CEO of “United Dream”; Craig Boykin to talk about his newly founded organization. Boykin is not your average businessman either. I wanted to know a little more about the man behind a steady growing organization called “United Dream”. But before we get into that, I first wanted to know about the MAN behind this growing empire. He was born and raised in Montgomery, in a community that was not always good and a struggle to make it out of. Boykin’s upbringing was very difficult. It involved situations with his mother having a drug problem to Boykin being diagnosed with a learning disability. Boykin was bullied in school because of his body odor from not having the things he needed growing up, and from wearing the same clothes in the same week. Boykin expressed that not having the typical upbringing most kids would have, made it harder to stay positive. In the tenth grade, Craig dropped out of school because he was over the school system, and the way it operated.

During that time Boykin ended up in the streets and soon landed himself in jail. “When I went to jail, I made a decision in jail that night that when I get out I was going to do something different with my life,” said Boykin. Once getting out of jail Boykin made contact with Job Corp and a year later joined the military for three years. “I got out the military, came back to Montgomery went to AUM and got a bachelor degree, I still wasn’t satisfied went to Faulkner and got two master degrees,” cheerfully said Boykin.

Craig Boykin, a man of great faith beyond any doubter that has heard his truly riveting past. He has transitioned from an at risk student, a teenage father, to a grown man that believes that you do not have to accept life for what it’s worth, but embrace change in one’s own life. Boykin is currently working on his Ph.D, and also writing a book titled From a G.E.D. to a Ph.D, How to turn minor setbacks to a major comeback. “I really wanted to set up a program or a system or organization that could help people who came from past histories like I have or my sister and brother”, said Boykin. That is where “United Dream” was built from, the hardships that Boykin endured growing up in the city of Montgomery. Too many real life issues that kids have to deal with in the community are one of the many services “United Dream” offers because today teachers are not equipped to deal with students on that level.

What exactly is “United Dream”? It is a community organization that is a 501c3 non-profit that focus on four areas. (1) The Community (2) Education (3) Family & Parenting and (4) Personal accountability. Instead of Boykin developing “United Dream” all alone, he asked other non-profit organizations to join him in the fight. “United Dream” board members, staff, and volunteers consist of numerous pastors, non-profit leaders, teachers, administrators, city official, and even some politicians. “We started February 4th 2013 when we founded United Dream, and we’ve grown to around 80 members,” exclaimed Boykin. The individuals that are on the Board, which governs the body of “United Dream”, are Craig Boykin-Executive Director, Tafeni English-President, Rahiem Phifer-Vice President, and Adrienne Boykin-Educational Director. “We are not trying to re invent the wheel, we are trying to partner with everyone and work collectively at the same table,” said Boykin. President Tafeni English is a good example of how Boykin’s dream was created. English is founder of Eve’s Circle, which is a vital part of “United Dream” and its mission. Both organizations mesh well together due to the common interest of uplifting youths with everyday problems. In addition, Vice President Phifer has experience dating back twelve years, while Boykin’s wife is a public school teacher and is inspiring to work full time for “United Dream” working with Montgomery public school at risk students.

United Dream has hosted a 3-on-3 shoot hoop not guns basketball tournament back in April. In that event members of the MPD, Firefighters, the sheriff department, and military members all played against guys on certain occasions they would be arresting.  This summer be on the look out for “Eve’s Circle” and “United Dream” summer camps that will be held at the Bellingrath Old Community Center. Camps begin this month until July. “Being in this issue of Gumptown magazine would let people know that we are here, Im not doing this for me Im doing this because if someone son or daughter is slacking in school, or if you need resources and cant find a job, or whatever, there is no problem bigger than United Dream,” said Boykin.

If you are interested in becoming apart of “United Dream” or need services, you can call (334)462-6613 or email info@uniteddreammontgomery.org. Also Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/craig.boykin

By Octavius Combs

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