Special to the
Opelika Observer

The Opelika Chamber of Commerce’s “20 Under 40” program is filled with 20 young professionals who are residents of Opelika and under the age of 40. The program is designed to develop leaders in the Opelika community by focusing on multiple topics such as the history of Opelika, the educational opportunities available, health and public safety, planning and future growth of the city and more. In addition, the class selects a service project they would like to take part in each year.
The 2020 Class of 20 Under 40 is more than halfway through the program and are weeks away from completing their selected service project. This year’s class decided to assist fellow 20 Under 40 class member Gregory Johnson with his annual Mother-Son Dance for his nonprofit organization, L.E.A.P.S. Mentoring.
L.E.A.P.S. Mentoring, which stands for “Leadership, Education, Achievement, Partnership, and Service,” is a proactive program that has the ability to curb potential crime, poor academic performance and other negative aspects of bad decision making. Johnson began the organization in 2014 when he realized he was encountering a lot of young men through his job in law enforcement.
“I started this organization as a way to build positive interactions with young men in the hopes of helping them become better citizens,” Johnson said.
One of the programs Johnson uses to achieve this goal is the annual Mother-Son Date Night. This event gives boys of all ages the opportunity to learn how to be gentlemen and how to treat women, in this case their mothers, with respect. The Mother-Son Date Night is set for March 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Greater Peace Baptist Church and will feature music by DJ Ozz, dancing, food, a photo booth, games and prizes. For more information and tickets for the event, go to L.E.A.P.S. Mentoring on Facebook.
The 20 Under 40 class has been planning this event since August. The class members have been divided into four separate committees: communications, sponsorship, planning and logistics and food/entertainment. In addition, the class has two chairs leading the project – Emma Holman (Auburn University- Harbert College of Business) and Michael Barlow (East Alabama Medical Center).
“The service learning project is designed to achieve two main objectives: 1) successfully assist in planning and executing the annual Mother-Son Date Night and 2) assist L.E.A.P.S. Mentoring in establishing a productive advisory committee for the organization and its programs to remain sustainable. We are extremely excited to partner with Greg on this event,” Holman said.
For more information, contact Mackenzie Kayler at mkayler@opelikachamber.com.