Ebony McNeil, born and bred in Reading, always knew there was an impact he could have on others, but couldn’t quite conceptualize how. He naturally inherited this desire to help others from his father, one of the founders of the Iron Men and Community Outreach Coordinator for both EOC (later becoming BCAP) as well as CATS, Reading’s branch of the Black Panthers.
Ebony realized that the power of men having fellowship was highly influential in how men matured and made decisions, whether for good or bad. He realized that a lot of society’s issues were stemming from men not assuming the role that God meant for them in their homes, church, and community. It was understood that in order to be their best, these men also had to be in fellowship with other men striving towards the same goal. There needed to be a movement so that men realized they weren’t alone and didn’t have to feel different when they wanted to experience growth.
After spending a few years of wondering “why me” and “would anyone listen”, Ebony decided to do something about it. In 2021 Ebony stepped out on faith and created The Forge, a non-profit organization, dedicated to “Enhancing Manhood from the Inside Out”. The Forge bases its mission on 3 symbiotic pillars of Positive Imagery, Quality Fellowship, and Service. These pillars work together to increase awareness, grow membership and build a stronger army in order to serve the community.
The Forge has built itself on 2 foundational programs. The Professional Men’s clothing Exchange, the Forge collects business attire from the community and through organizations like BCAP, BCPS and RACC donate to men who are entering a phase in their life where this type of attire is necessary. The Forge also holds the Forge Forum on the 4th Wednesday of every month at O’pake institute. A closed space for men, to share and reflect on their own choices, perspectives and how they can use these experiences and the wisdom shared from others to be better men going forward. Forums discuss fatherhood, the male ego, conflict resolution, and being a better husband.
The Forge’s board of men are devoted to helping use their life experiences to help others. They have made quite an impact through the programs listed above as well as other community events such as Covid vaccination sites, donations to women’s shelters, and the father/Son Brunch Seminar.
The Forge has had an impactful two years and credits its success to the community’s understanding and support of the mission. The future for The Forge contains more of the same, but also a mentorship program, Young Athletes Symposium, and a curriculum designed for young men. The impending impact of this organization is evident. Prepare to be Forged.