Ideally, Bo Scippio and Des Frazier would clone themselves, or bottle whatever qualities they possess that make them who they are, or…something. It’s hard to overstate what these two men, native sons of our community (Bo is a graduate of Blanche Ely High School, class of 1987; Des is a graduate of Nova, class of 1990), are doing to turn our community around.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. About a year and a half ago, Bo and Des, first cousins (“more like brothers,” they both say) and friends since the beginning, looked around and thought…wait a minute. There has to be a way. A way to improve our community. A way to mentor young men. A way to encourage, engage and empower local men to reach out and improve our community. Their Facebook group, the NuGame Movement, has grown to over 6000 members, an impressive number considering the recency of this movement and the size of the local community.
NuGame is described as a “Boys’ Mentor Group… Men Repairing the Problems We Caused through Community Trash Clean Ups, Back 2 School Backpack Giveaway/School Supplies, Empowerment Group Sessions, Life Skills Workshops, Art Painting, Fishing & Skating Events!!!”
Indeed. On a recent sunny Saturday, we sat down for what turned into a very long lunch with Bo and Des. Bo has two daughters, 4 and 15. Des has six (!) children: three boys and three girls, ranging in age from 5 to 25 (“I’ve got a team,” he smiles). Both are extremely busy, of course, with running their businesses and parenting their broods (Des owns a woodworking company, MM Custom Cabinetry, and is also a member of the Pompano Beach Economic Development Council. Both are also involved in property management).
But still. As is often the case, if you want something done, go to the busiest people you know. This time, though, no one had to ask them; they conceived of NuGame after a singularly tragic event: a fatal shooting. “A friend of ours’ son was attempting an armed robbery and was killed by his intended victim,” recalls Des. “Within a week, we met at a local barbershop, venting our frustrations and throwing out ideas, and we decided to start a mentoring program.” He adds,
Looking back on where we came from, I saw an opportunity to fix some of the problems that we have contributed to. To right our wrongs, if we could.”
The group targets boys ages 10-17, although no one is turned away. “We try to get them before they make the bad choices; we try to redirect them.”
Every first and third Monday of each month, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at the Jan Moran Collier City Learning Library, NuGame hosts a mentor workshop “to talk about what we went through at that age, and [stress the importance of]budgeting, healthy living, school, peer pressure.” All of NuGame’s programs are essentially for the participants, but parents are also welcome.
Currently, NuGame has 18 members and four supporters. All of the members are very active. “We have fewer chiefs than Indians”, says Bo, which – for anyone who’s been involved in a nonprofit or heck, even held a job – is an inordinately high active participation rate. That old 80/20 rule seems not to apply to NuGame. “All of the members are responsible and reliable,” and they get almost 100% participation at all of their events. Wow!
We ask what one thing Bo and Des want folks to know about NuGame. Bo thinks for a moment, and says, “That we’re sincere. Everything we’ve done has been out of our own pockets, from our hearts, genuine. We’re in it for the long term; we’re committed.” Des adds, “I want the kids to have the ability to dream. There’s always hope. My original vision was a program for adults, but what better way to [make a difference]than to help the kids? A lot of the kids we mentor see the adults hanging out, doing other things. We try to set a good example.”
We ask what if it’s challenging to mentor someone who doesn’t know they need help. Is it possible to help someone like this? Des vehemently disagrees that this is impossible, or even difficult. “How do you know how to be a good role model if you never had one?”
What Bo and Des have accomplished in 18 short months is nothing short of miraculous. It occurs to us how fortunate we all are to have NuGame; our children, our parents, and our community are all better for it.