“We wanted to turn a negative situation into something positive,” Donaldson said. He added that his son had already showed promise of being a positive impact in the community.
The Blues and R&B Showcase featured acts such as the Muddy Kreek Blues Band; the Danetts, which included songs from some of Motown’s popular female groups; and from the Chicago Blues Front, singer, songwriter and slide guitarist Vince Agwada and his band, and more. According to Donaldson, there were approximately 150 tickets sold to annual showcase.
Along with the annual showcase, P.R.O.M.I.S.E., which stands for Protecting and Restoring the Order of Mankind with the Initiative of Serving Elders, also hosts a summer gathering in the park for those who have lost loved ones, a P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Day with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a cleanup day with youth around the City of Pittsburgh, a career day, which used to be held at Oliver High School before it closed and the Jehru M. Donaldson scholarship fund. They also host their three-day annual basketball camp for boys and girls ages 8-18. Donaldson said they have recently begun planning for the camp, but they are now looking for a facility to hold it in, since Oliver is now closed.
“Our mission is to provide excellent opportunities for young people through mentoring and providing valuable skills along with promoting a working and caring relationship with the elderly,” Donaldson said.
When it comes to the youth violence, Donaldson said it is because, “Parents aren’t doing a good job teaching them. It starts at home. Not everybody (all parents), but it’s just enough to make it noticeable.”
According to the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner’s 2013 homicide list, 15 of the 20 homicides have been Blacks and most of them are occurring in the city. Also, of those 15, the majority of them are under the age of 30.
“We have to encourage young people to go further. Go somewhere, do something because if you don’t you’ll get caught up,” Donaldson said. He added that there are usually only three endings to getting caught up in the streets-death, jail or addiction.
In an effort to provide a safe place for the community, Donaldson said he is working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh to acquire a vacant building of theirs that sits at the corner of Wilson Avenue and West Burgess Street in the Perry Hilltop section of the North Side. While things are still in the talking phase, he said he plans to use it as a healing center and a center of learning and care for the youth and elderly. It will house space for community meetings, workshops, mentoring, music education and more.
“There is nothing for Black people on Perry Hilltop. There are other things out there than bars and clubs and jails and crack houses. We need to show there are alternatives and P.R.O.M.I.S.E. is trying to be that alternative,” he said.
While Donaldson said he has received a number of support from the North Side community, especially Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, he said he needs more. He said the organization needs additional funding; grant writers; and volunteers to serve on the board, just to name a few.
“I am dedicated to bringing joy back into the community, into my heart and the hearts of others,” Donaldson said. “It helps me through the grieving process. There is a great joy in serving and we need to practice things that will bring us joy and others.”
Donaldson plans to make DVD copies of the April 6 showcase available for purchase.
(For more information on the P.R.O.M.I.S.E. group and its activities, visit http://www.promiseonthemove.com)