“Stollie” not an official word in the dictionary, but a popular one nonetheless. Not uncommon, but slang words become viral and never make it past the Urban Dictionary, but this word needs to be eradicated all together. It represents a stolen car, an epidemic plaguing our youth in the city of Milwaukee. The motivation behind it; some say boredom, others say videos games; I personally have found that many kids do it for money. Regardless of reasoning, none are justified. Many have offered up solutions, but none go past prison bars. There are some who still believe in the power of mentorship, structure activities and if we come together to help the youth, we got this.
Andre Ellis, founder of We Got Thissaid: “we keep doing all we can to make as much money as we can, when we should be using more of our time to produce happier people. Unhappy people are going to keep trying to steal and take your money. Ellis has worked with inner city youth every summer in a garden located off 9thand Ring. The garden gives teens a place to go to make money, learn how to garden, as well as receive mentorship from Ellis. Starting at 8am each morning, the boys would arrive with great expectation, waiting to learn gardening from Ellis, as well as mentorship. The payment of 20 dollars became a bonus for most youth, as the knowledge and place to go on Saturdays became more important.
On Friday, his efforts were rightly celebrated, and put on display at the Black Historical Society Museum. The event featured pictures from the work done throughout the summer, showcasing the hard work and dedication put forth by the youth. A long-time supporter of Ellis is Alderwoman Coggs, who was in attendance. Heavy community advocate Senator Taylor was also among the star-studded guest list. Full of passion and emotion, Ellis came to tears while hearing supportive speeches from activist around the city, as well as youth testimonials. As the event ended Ellis was met with love, as guests took one last glimpse of the beauty on display.
In a city where violence and theft seem to be deeply rooted in the communities, We Got Thishas shown that if we invest in the soil, we can grow something beautiful together. Salute to you Mr. Ellis.