Madison Co. teacher, mentor helps youth succeed

MADISON COUNTY, Kentucky – COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the way we live. As of March 2020, 14% of parents reported according to a June 2020 survey conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.


what you need to know

  • Home of Opportunities and Dreams (HOOD) was founded in 2013 by David Townsend

  • In September 2021, Townsend’s nonprofit expanded into the Richmond Teen Center

  • Townsend invites a variety of guests to speak to youth attending the youth center on a variety of topics

  • Townsend mentors middle and high school students in Madison County


The Richmond Teen Center has invited Home of Opportunities and Dreams (HOOD) founder David Townsend to expand his mentoring program in September 2021. It’s helping more Madison County kids stay on the right path in life during a pandemic.

David Townsend grew up in the Robinson Garden Apartments in Massachusetts in the 1970s. There he got his first mentor.

Townsend says his family wasn’t the wealthiest, adding that they were of low socioeconomic status. Eventually he returned to Kentucky to finish his growing up surrounded by his grandparents and mother.

He served in the US military for several years and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree from the University of Cumberlands. He immediately started with his social work degree to become a teacher.

While teaching special education at Madison Middle School in 2013, he felt the urge to start his nonprofit Home of Possibilities and Dreams (HOOD)which takes care of disadvantaged youth and offers them a support system through mentoring, summer trips and volunteer projects.

Most recently, HOOD expanded into the Richmond Teen Center in September 2021, where it mentors middle and high school students and invites speakers to speak on topics such as motivation and empathy. His mentees are currently planning their next volunteer project.

“Depending on who volunteers and how we behave at the hotel or how we behave wherever I take you depends on whether we spend the night in a hotel again. You represent not only the HOOD but also yourself and your parents,” Townsend said.

Every student that Townsend mentores feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and questions that they may not be able to answer at home or at school. The mentoring sessions allow for an open door policy on everything, even societal pressures like drugs. During the discussions, Townsend is quick to enlighten youngsters and keep them from going down the wrong path.

“It [vaping] still develop a bad habit and you put something in your mouth and inhale something and you don’t know what you are inhaling. It may not be nicotine, but there are other things in this vape that are harmful to your body,” Townsend said.

David Townsend (second from left) poses for a photo with his brothers from the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. (Photo provided by David Townsend)

Townsend’s motivation to keep young people on the right path mirrors his childhood. He is a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity where his mindset of serving a community was born.

“Too often we have mentors in our lives and they drop out, but that child or young person still needs a support system,” Townsend said.

Kiana Estill, a seventh grader at Madison Middle School, is one of the many students who have turned to Townsend for a support system because of difficulties at home.

“When my dad was out of here and in prison, he acted as a father figure and taught me to do things I wasn’t supposed to do, taught me nurturing and stuff,” Estill said.

The program also allows students to cultivate healthy friendships with outdoor activities like basketball. Townsend said when support systems are compromised, children are misguided.

“When that support system is gone, things tend to roll downhill and get out of control. So if we can provide children who are already at risk with an effective support system that doesn’t allow for that, we may be able to stop some of the pitfalls before they get in,” Townsend said.

Townsend believes it only takes one person to rearrange this child’s life.

HOOD will continue mentoring sessions through the end of the school year and then shift to volunteer opportunities over the summer. You can Contact Townsend by email: david.townsend@thehoodinc.org.

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