The Launch of a New Service Opportunity


Most likely, you dressed down on Friday and donated five dollars to the Visible Men Academy. You might also be asking yourself who your donation helps.

Junior Ben Martin and his brother Ian (a sophomore) came up with the idea of a dress-down day to fundraise for an after school program at a charter school in Bradenton. The school was founded by former Upper School Headmaster, Neil Phillips when he was inspired to help low-income students succeed. His journey began in Baltimore with an after school program with Visible Men. The mission of the organization was to help young african american boys and inspire them to achieve greatness by following the lead of great men in their community. Mr. Phillips left ODA and moved on to open his own school in Bradenton in August of 2013.

Ben and Ian approached ODA teacher Ken Sommers about a service opportunity through lacrosse. He told them that he partners with Visible Men Academy through his own foundation “Games 4 Good.”

VMA offers 10 week after school programs with sports and other activities for their kids. The students are kindergarten through 3rd grade and are high risk kids. 99%of them are on free and reduced meal plans and 10% are homeless.

Ben and Ian would like to purchase gear for the kids with the money they raise from the dress down day and through the help of the community. Through associations with school and lacrosse, the Martin brothers have been able to recruit friends to help coach the kids two days a week beginning in January.

“Our goal is to teach them life skills and character building through lacrosse,” says Ben Martin.

By showing these young boys the importance of character, they will hopefully grow as individuals and learn important life skills.

In the future, they hope to continue helping other schools who are in need as well.

They have a partnership with Notre Dame set in place for the future and plan on pursuing out of state options for organizations in need of their help.

“For VMA I think it means the education to their kids is possible through sports scholarships for their futures and how important loyalty and teamwork is,” says Ben Martin.