Chris Chambliss founded The Nehemiah Community Project (TNCP) in Maywood to help young Black men in the community.  Chambliss grew up with an intimate knowledge of Maywood through his father’s work there as a pastor and both parents’ work in local livestock, fish and grocery markets serving the community.

His chose to name his community organization after the book of Nehemiah in the Bible because he states, “There was a despair that Nehemiah was going through, and I saw that in my own community.”

TNCP utilizes the T.A.C.T. model, which Chambliss says is based on trauma, awareness, capacity and training. A father of six and a grandfather with a background in business and psychology, Chambliss says his efforts were first informed by an inability to get action-based results working through other community-based organizations.

He took his vision to connect with others to provide the supports he saw missing in the community. Quoting Frederick Douglass, Chambliss says it’s easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men, and he says that broken men in the community did not have a lot of resources.

TNCP is building to focus on three areas: returning citizens, or formerly incarcerated individuals; military support for veterans and their families; and En-Game a group to empower young men.

TNCP’s flagship program is En-Game, a safe space for men to gather each week. The groups meet in person and virtually and provide a safe space for adult men of color to discuss topics that allow problem solving, validation and affirmation, as well as being a place where members can get help dealing with the pressures of life.

“We needed to try something new,” he says, adding, “There’s just not room for men to talk about themselves, to say, ‘I’m broken. I need help.’  The pandemic really highlighted and unveiled these issues which had existed all along.”

During the pandemic, Chambliss partnered with his brother in Los Angeles to create Brother to Brother conversations on Instagram. Members can listen in and join the conversation, which covers life topics.

TNP also works with challenged youth, helping with therapy and support for young adults and the teachers and adults who work with them. Chambliss says the aim is “trying to collectively come into a space of wholeness.”

The group’s military support services are a future goal that Chambliss says he wants to make sure they get right. He found that many members seeking support through the En-Game were connected to the military. “We saw that many of those who gravitated towards this program were veterans. My father was a veteran. I understand the challenges faced by both veterans and their families, so we want to make sure we are intentional about creating these supports.”

More information on The Nehemiah Community Project can be found at

thenehemiahcommunityproject.org/

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