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Friday, October 15, 2021

Esther Lewis knows how to throw a birthday party!

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by Kara Kavensky
In January of 2019, Esther Lewis was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was devastating
to her and challenged her faith. Through some
serious soul searching, she asked herself and
God, “What do you want me to produce with
my life?”
By October of 2019, Esther had her answer.
Esther is the mother of a young Black man
who’s now a sophomore at Tennessee State
University, she created Holistic Evolution (HE)
to support male mentoring. She created an
event to celebrate her successful fight with
cancer and in honor of her 40th birthday, except the focus wasn’t on Esther, it was on the
young men attending.
“I asked God, ‘What am I supposed to leave
on this earth?’” says Esther, who was raised
in Gary. “Holistic Evolution is to provide male
mentoring to young men ages 16 to 24. I called
it Finding 40.”
Esther has worked in youth development for
over two decades. Lake County has the second
highest single parent homes (1st is Indianapolis) in Indiana, so a lot of young men growing
up without their fathers.
“Black men role models are scarce and I am
working to bridge that gap with HE,” states Esther, who incorporated her nonprofit and has a
large Board of Directors for HE. “It is so important for young Black men to have positive role
models in their lives.”
The model of Holistic Evolution consists of:
life coaching, resource connectivity, mentorship, and a community reward system. HE
currently has around 85 mentors who there is
an emphasize responsibility and employability
skills.
“Research shows that we can have improved
health outcomes and educational outcomes
with life coaching,” says Esther. “We focus on
future-oriented goal setting and the young
men are referred to resources to help them accomplish their goals, including financial independence.”
This year’s event will be the HE Future Fair,
held on October 14th at the Dean and Barbara
White Community Center in Merrillville. The
format is a college / job fair type of atmosphere. Sponsoring educational organizations
and colleges will be present, as well as employers. Sponsors include cultural, spiritual, and
health organizations, who will also be engaged
in the event. The HE Hero sponsor is Eleven
Fifty Academy.
“We are honored to sponsor this year’s HE
event,” states Chris Hutchinson, Senior Vice
President of Engagement with Eleven Fifty
Academy. “Events such as the HE Future Fair
are needed in every community to help young
males discovery their passion and direction for
their lives. Providing resources to make these
vital connections helps young people feel seen
and heard — and most importantly, supported.”
The HE Future Fair is all about engagement
and helping these young men with their future direction. They have partnered with high
schools and have college and career readiness
coach, Catisha Toney, of Coats, Inc., who will
meet virtually with the young men ahead of the
event and prep them so they know which questions to ask with the educational organizations
present. HE works regularly with the Region
1 WorkOne office for resume workshops, and
will hold a specially scheduled workshop ahead
of this year’s HE Future Fair. Also, HE Board
member Joe Williams, Ret. Navy Veteran, will
discuss possible military service with the young
men.
“It was Joe’s idea to hold a job fair,” says Esther. “We hope to have military recruiters present if they are able to make it.”
The following evening, a fundraising dinner
will be held at the Arthouse in Gary. The HE
organization is focused on impact and are measuring the experience and effectiveness of how
HE is monitoring males of color in northwest
Indiana. They do this through followup surveys.
“Our goal is to illuminate an attainable, successful path for these young men to ensure
that their futures are bright,” says Ether.

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