Memphis-based Young Man University expands outreach to Dyer County

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Memphis-based group that works to keep young men from ending up in jail is expanding.

Young Man University already partners with schools in Shelby County and the mayor's office in an effort to curtail gang activity.

The organization is now opening an office in downtown Dyersburg, Tenn.

Memphian James Thompson's life was turned around by the program and believes the same positive thing can happen to other men in Dyer County.

"The time was probably when I was at one of my lowest points of my life. Kind of 'in the streets,'" said Thompson.

Thompson, who is almost 30 years old, didn't go into detail about the kind of trouble he got into as a teen in Memphis, only that he made some wrong decisions and wrong choices.

"Not understanding the consequences and how it would affect me in the long run," said Thompson.

He said his life turned around after attending a counseling session by Young Man University.

Thompson says the organization, which provides a positive direction to juveniles and adult males, kept him from landing in jail.

"When I was given that second chance, I vowed to myself and I vowed to God that I was going to take this opportunity to do the right thing," said Thompson.

He is now a Senior Consultant and Youth Counselor with Young Man University and says he's glad the organization is opening an office in Dyersburg.

Lonnie Gauldin, VP at Young Man University, said the Dyer County office will work with schools and other civic organizations to dissuade young men from breaking the law.

"We partner together to do personal, professional and community development. We focus on cultural adjustment and re-entry affairs," said Gauldin.

The Young Man University  will also be working with Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box in his 'jail re-entry initiative.'

Sheriff Box believes Young Man University will play a key role in stopping the cycle of  repeat offenders through his jail's doors.

"We have to do everything we can, when we incarcerate an individual, to be sure that when we release that person that we're seeding something healthier back into the community," said Box.

The Dyersburg office of Young Man University is located on West Market Street.