OUR FOUNDER, MEL BLOUNT
Mel Blount is a former cornerback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a five-time Pro-Bowler, a four-time Super Bowl Champion who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989. He is considered one of the best all-time cornerbacks however, his athletic accolades are not his entire legacy. Mel has committed and dedicated the past 34 years to impacting and influencing the lives of youth. Mel has carried the legacy of his parents. He is a deeply committed family-man who has been like a father figure to many who did not have a positive role model in their home to emulate.
The mission of the Mel Blount Youth Leadership Initiative is to provide youth with programs where they will have a healthy environment to learn, work, play and to develop principles of respect, responsibility, and leadership through: nurturing, moral & character development and guidance.
The Mel Blount Youth Leadership Initiative serves to help youth build character, integrity, hope and to offer superior resources and programs that are essential in life.
The Mel Blount Youth Home began as a residential group home and emergency service that had the capacity to house and support a maximum of 24 youth.
Mel’s desire was to broaden the reach of the program and in 2014 he established the Mel Blount Youth Leadership Initiative, a subsidiary of the Mel Blount Youth Home. The Leadership Initiative supports and serves over 2000 youth per year.
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“I learned tools to be a man and how to carry myself as a man. I prospered and did well.”
“My family will forever be grateful to Mel Blount for tapping into Jasmyn’s potential and empowering her to live a meaningful and purpose driven life.”
“You gave me the discipline that I seriously lacked as a kid and the boys in your home now need the same thing. You and your staff are great Americans, to shape broken boys and mend them into fine men of character is very hard to do, but you and your staff do it every day. I owe you a debt of gratitude for the man that I have become.”
“The staff here at MBYH really tries to plant a good seed to rebuild self-respect in the kids here. Honestly, I am touched by all the staff. They all inspired me to do better. Don’t settle for less, strive for the best.”
Through the Years
Explore the key moments of Mel Blount’s life and the Leadership Initiative.
Youth Leadership Initiative Established
In an effort to widen the impact of the great work of the Youth Home, the Mel Blount Youth Leadership Initiative was established in 2017 to instill principles of respect, responsibility, and leadership in young boys and girls across western PA.
Brandon Humphrey gives Keynote Speech
Brandon Humphrey gave the keynote speech at the first MBYLI Youth Summit. This was a moment of profound significance, as Pastor Humphrey had been a former resident of the Youth Home and had many troubles in his youth. “I learned tools to be a man and how to carry myself as a man. I prospered and did well.”
Summer Equestrian Program for Girls Began
Until 2012, the Youth Home had been focused on programs to help young boys. That changed when the Girls’ Summer Equestrian Program was launched. Working with horses and animals had been a foundational part of the Youth Home experience, and was a great way to begin programming for young girls.
Partnered with Pittsburgh Steelers to host Rookie Camp
The Youth Home partnered with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009 to house an all-day training camp with Steelers rookies and young boys from the community. The program has been a wild hit and has continued annually ever since. The University of Pittsburgh rookies began their own camp in 2010 following this model.
Darnell Blacksdale Graduates from Morehouse
Darnell Blacksdale graduated from Morehouse College in 2008. In a letter to Mel, Darnell said that his favorite part of living at the Youth Home was the exposure he had to animals and horses. “At first, I was iffy about it then, as the program went on, I felt like I had a bond with the horses on one of my trips to the barn, I met you and one thing I can remember the most was that you said we need to get groomed (I thought horses get groomed, not people).”
Aaron Nestor Promoted to Sergeant
Aaron Nestor, a former resident of the Youth Home, graduated from the Ft. Campbell Non-commissioned Officers Academy in 2004 and was promoted to Sergeant. In a letter to Mel, Aaron thanked the staff. “You and your staff are great Americans, to shape broken boys and mend them into fine men of character is very hard to do, but you and your staff do it every day.”
The First All-Star Celebrity Roast
The All-Star Celebrity Roast (the Youth Home’s biggest fundraising event) began in 1998. Since then, it has been an annual tradition — and a fun-filled night! Several recognizable celebrities have attended, including many former Steelers and, of course, Mel himself.
Co-authored “A Cross Burns Brightly” with Cindy Sterling
“A Cross Burns Brightly” details the struggle of opening the PA Youth Home in 1989-1990. Co-authored by Mel Blount and Cindy Sterling, it is an examination of the will-power and persistence necessary to making a vision become a reality.
Mel Named as the 524th Daily Point of Life
President George H. W. Bush named Mel the 524th Daily Point of Life, an award reserved for members of society who demonstrate the values and traits that portray exemplary volunteer service.
PA Youth Home Established
Due to the efforts of many in the community, the PA Youth Home was established in 1990, after a year of struggle. The opening was much celebrated, and was the beginning of a long relationship with the community.
Mel Inducted Into NFL Hall of Fame
In 1989, Mel was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Mel Confronts Opposition to Establishing PA Home
In an effort to spread the reach of the Youth Home, Mel sought to open a home in Washington, PA. A roadblock to setting the home up was protests staged by the Ku Klux Klan, who burned a cross and staged a rally to block the home. Two shots were also fired into the home. Counter protests were organized by a coalition of organizations that opposed the message of the KKK.
Mel Retires from the NFL
After 13 seasons, 5 Pro Bowls (including one Pro Bowl MVP award), 6 AFC championships, & 4 Super Bowl Championships, Mel Blount retired from the NFL in 1983. He ended his career with 57 interceptions & 736 yards returned (a Steeler record), 13 fumble recoveries, & was named NFL’s defensive MVP after leading the NFL with 11 interceptions in 1975.
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