‘Young Men of Distinction’ pack lunches for the homeless in Orlando

Jerry Askin on October 7, 2023

Orlando mentorship program part of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A few dozen young men in an Orlando mentorship program spent their Saturday morning packing food for the homeless.

It’s one of many service initiatives they regularly take part in with the Orlando Alumni Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

15-year-old Zavian Palmer spent his morning giving back and getting results.

“I want to help kids. I want to help people who are homeless. I want to help whoever needs it. It’s just something I enjoy doing,” Palmer said.

It was also Palmer’s birthday weekend that he spent giving back.

“All of my days are for me, and I don’t mind spending one extra day to help somebody who’s less fortunate and needs it more than I do,” he said.

He and about two dozen other teens helped the less fortunate on Saturday by packing lunch bags inside of an Islamic center near downtown Orlando.

“As you can see, this building is surrounded by homeless people, people who don’t have. So, what we want to do is give back, expose the kids to something new,” said Akil Blake, vice president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Orlando Alumni Chapter.

The teens are in the Young Men of Distinction program. It’s a mentorship program that’s part of the fraternity’s Orlando Alumni Chapter. The kids also regularly take part in other service projects, including community-wide cleanups.

“Our mentorship program is where we identify young men and bring them into our program and help develop them in four different areas, and this is just one pillar in those areas, service to the community,” said Jermaine Patterson, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Orlando Alumni Chapter president.

After the teens packed the lunch bags Saturday, it was the members of the fraternity and other volunteers who went out to give them to homeless residents.

Dr. Danny Hoey oversees the mentorship program.

“I think it exposes them to the world and how we function in the world and also shows them how to be selfless and give back,” he said

It’s been all worth it for Palmer, who told News 6 this mentorship program has truly helped him.

“Maybe one day I’ll be running the kids or helping lead the kids who are here, and I do plan on doing this for years to come,” Palmer said.