Black History Month: Al Demming leads the way for young people

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Albert Demming’s Background

A mentor, entrepreneur, and basketball official are all titles that 28-year Naperville resident Albert Demming has to his name. Yet, his journey began in Newark, New Jersey, where he graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in economics. After working for AT&T for several years, Demming was presented with an opportunity with Hallmark Cards, leading him to move to the area.

“It’s in my blood. My biological father was an entrepreneur, and so basically, my brother told me it’s in the blood. So I pursued it. I created a laundry list of things. I said, well if I’m going to relocate, I need to hit all of these things. But 85% of those things that I placed on the list, Chicago met,” said Demming.

A passion for working with youth

Mr. Demming’s success led him to become a franchise owner of multiple hallmark stores. Yet, his passion has always been involved with youth.

“I retired officially in 2018, and so currently what I do now I work in the Valley View school district, which is Bolingbrook and Romeoville, work with a middle school, Jane Addams Middle School, sixth, eighth grade, all subject matter, that I cover. I also referee high school basketball, and then I have my mentoring program, which is my heart. One student asked me about a year or so ago, Mr. Demming, what’s your favorite job? I said what I’m doing with the mentoring program, but I don’t even get paid for it,” said Demming.

Demming’s objective with his mentoring program, The Leadership Initiative, is to provide mentoring for those needing positive role models.

“Well, it was seeing myself in a lot of the students, as I mentioned. I meet students where there are; when I was your age younger, I did not have that mentor. My grandfather served as my role model, and he passed away when I was in seventh grade. So basically, I had no one to kind of take my hand and kind of show me the way my two older brothers went into the service right out of high school. So they weren’t there to serve as a model,” said Demming.

Mentoring Program is recognized in the community

His mentorship in the community has paid dividends, not only for the students he mentors but his program that was recognized by the Naperville Rotary Club earlier this month.

“It means a lot because it indicates that folks are looking and appreciate the things that you’re trying to do. We meet students where they are. We coined the term consistency of presence. But as long as you remain engaged, you’re going to experience those things that we try to ingrain in you as a young person,” said Demming.

Demming, though, has no plans on stopping as he still plans to continue to be involved, and an active member in the community.

“Who could ask for anything more? I mean, that brings pride to my heart every time I see you guys, and any one of you, and as a group, I’m like, you’re my sons and daughters,” said Demming.

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