Journeymen was founded in 2008 by Jon Leidel and Chris Frisco. For its first six years, Journeymen was exclusively a volunteer-run organization, fueled largely by dedicated men who were also members of Asheville’s Mankind Project chapter.
In August 2014, Journeymen contracted it’s first part-time program director, who for the next four years standardized our programming, while systematizing administrative and fundraising procedures and strategies so that the organization could meet a growing interest and demand for our services. This consistent staffing is what made it possible to develop and implement programming such as our School Program and Crafting Passages program in 2017.
Additionally, we have partnered up with United Way’s Middle School Success initiative to provide school-based mentoring groups to 8th graders at Erwin Middle School. This partnership will enable many more boys to have access to support from men who are invested in them, while also benefitting from a safe and confidential space where they can speak what is on their minds, explore their emotions, and begin stepping consciously into manhood.
In 2015, over a dozen Boys To Men centers from the U.S. and Canada came together to found a national 501(c)3 Boys To Men, USA in an effort to bring group mentoring and rites of passage services to many more boys in the coming years. In 2016, Journeymen submitted to the national board a letter of alignment confirming our solidarity with this programmatic expansion and commitment to developing our programming right here in Asheville.
Journeymen is excited to move forward in collaboration with Boys To Men, USA, as this alignment empowers existing centers to learn from each other’s programming and to collaborate on research and federal grant funding.
Over the past two years, we have not only seen growing numbers of initiates participating in our Rites of Passage Adventure Weekends, but also an increasing number of returning Journeymen who want to serve as staff, as a way of staying involved. We have developed a leadership track for aspiring ROPAW leaders including both staff and J-men.
Our semi-monthly mentoring groups have now expanded to two groups of boys meeting every Monday evening and have moved to a new community space in West Asheville.
Our monthly out-groups have grown in scope, incorporating both recreational outdoor activities and service learning projects in conjunction with local environmental organizations, including Asheville Museum of Science, MountainTrue and Long Branch Environmental Education Center.
Beginning in 2019, made possible by a grant from the Windgate Foundation and a dedicated “Fire Circle” of core donors, Journeymen was able to hire a full-time Director. The organization starts 2019 off with a strategic plan for program enrichment and expansion and has more volunteer investment and leadership potential than ever before. The future is bright and we look forward to the coming decade serving Asheville’s young men.
Spring 2019 ROPAW
Enroll a boy or sign up to staff our spring rite of passage adventure weekend.