Watch Us Change Us helps Binghamton-area youth learn life skills

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Kashif Summers of Endicott is ensuring that every child in need gets a free haircut just in time for back to school.

He has helped kids get involved in free football clinics, art and music programs.

And he even helped their parents find accommodation if they needed it.

These are just a few of the many projects Summers works on each year through the nonprofit organization he founded and continues to lead: Watch Us Change Us. to educate, advocate and help local youth learn life skills to become productive members of the community, according to the group’s mission statement.

“All we do is basically raise the kids and let them know someone cares,” Summers said.

Originally from Endicott who still lives there, Summers grew up as the eldest of 12 children. His family often struggled to make ends meet.

“I was one of those kids who had holes in my shoes,” he said.

Being the big brother to his younger siblings has given him a better understanding of children and what they need to be successful.

“I’ve always taken care of children all my life,” he said.

That’s why he started working with children as an adult. He is now the Community Schools Coordinator for George F. Johnson Elementary School in Union-Endicott.

His work with children inspired him to do more for them and led him to found Watch Us Change Us.

“I grew up here. I know everyone here,” he said. “When people need help, they contact me.”

If Summers can’t help a kid with something, he can always find someone who can. For example, he has a friend who runs soccer clinics for kids. Another source of help is the organization’s four-person board of directors who also work tirelessly to help children, Summers said.

“It’s not just me,” he said of the organization’s work.

Kashif Summers and one of hundreds of children who have been helped by the non-profit organization he founded and leads: Watch Us Change Us.

The organization works to boost children’s self-esteem, teaches them to respect adults and encourages them to study hard in school and explore their talents and interests, he said.

“Watching us change ourselves is all about being motivated,” he said. “I like helping people, but they have to be motivated.”

The group tries to teach young people about jobs and career paths they might not have thought of. For example, a child who likes to cook will learn to open his own bakery. A teenager who loves basketball is encouraged to pursue a career in sports medicine if he can’t make the NBA. A teenager learning the electrician trade at BOCES is encouraged to open his own electrician business, Summers said.

“Now broaden your horizons. Take it to another level,” he said. “A lot of times people don’t take the time to show kids different things.”

While Summers dedicates many evenings and weekends to Watch Us Change Us, he has no intention of slowing down.

“I’m all about unity in the community,” he said. “When no one else cares, Watch Us Change Us is there.”

Kashif Summers

Domicile and birthplace: Endicott.

Career: Community Schools Coordinator at George F. Johnson Elementary School in the Union-Endicott Central School District. Also works part-time at the Southern Tier Community Center.

Family: Three children.

How to help: Watch Us Change Us is seeking donations, volunteers, disc jockeys, cooks and other helpers to work on its eighth annual Unity in the Community Barbeque scheduled for August 27 in Highland Park. The BBQ includes free food, haircuts for the kids, a bouncy house and a voting booth to teach kids to vote. For help, find the group on Facebook under Watch Us Change Us or call or text Kashif Summers at 607-235-4057.

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