SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Joe Horan has worked toward building men his entire adult-life, because he himself needed guidance on what it meant to be a man.
“In the midst of my own pain, I looked out in the gym of a middle school and said ‘If someone doesn’t teach these boys a different way, they may fall into the same trap and experience the same pain. That’s how Building Men got its birth,” Horan said.
When Horan started his professional career, he quickly climbed the ranks of becoming a Junior-Varsity and Varsity coach in the Syracuse City School District. He thought he met all the social criteria on being a ‘real man’, but after a failed marriage, he quickly realized that wasn’t the case.
“I did all of that at the expense of my first marriage, and I didn’t realize I just needed to be a man who gave back to his family and was here for the community,” Horan said.
When Building Men originated in 2006, Horan hit the ground running. He started running workshops with middle school students throughout the Syracuse City School District. Some of the important life-lessons he taught were as follows:
- Importance of education
- Domestic violence
- Overcoming life’s obstacles
One of the reasons why Horan believes Building Men sticks is because former students of his who went through the program come back to work with the current students. One of those former students being Salimo Musa, who shares his success story as a freshman at Onondaga Community College.
Musa started out as what he described a ‘quiet kid’ in middle school, but Building Men helped him to get out of his shell and establish better relationships with his peers.
“It’s fascinating seeing these kids. I was these kids, and seeing them grow… It’s cool.”