A “New Beginning” for Oak Hill: Chess Teaches Life’s Lessons
By Michael P. Moss
Thursday, 16 July 2009

Despite current controversies surrounding the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel, Md., there is some good news. While it may seem an unlikely place to find chess enthusiasts, Andre Marr, CEO of P∙O∙P (Product of the Product), a District-based non-profit organization, and several P∙O∙P volunteers, recently held a chess tournament at the facility.

Marr, who learned to play chess at the age of eight, believes the game provides structure that is presently missing from many young men’s lives.

“Like life, it requires patience, thought, and planning; things most of these kids aren’t taught,” Marr said.

A District native who currently lives in Laurel, Md., Marr, 52, founded P∙O∙P to introduce youth ex-offenders to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. Youth who successfully complete the P∙O∙P program are able to work with identified companies and attend accredited apprenticeship schools. An HVAC specialist, Marr said the P∙O∙P program is not limited to the HVAC field.

“We want to assist them in accomplishing whatever it is they want to do that’s positive.” P∙O∙P is based on the principal that “if you teach a man to fish he can feed himself for a lifetime,” he said.

Marr’s motivation for helping young men comes from having spent many of his young adult years behind bars. He has since turned his life around and now wants to give something back.

“It’s about finding ways to open channels of dialogue with the kids so they can connect with someone who understands them and the issues they struggle with,” he said. His goal is “to establish a level of communication that can continue once the young men are released.”

The D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) opened New Beginnings in May to replace the aging Oak Hill Youth Center facility. Since opening, there have been two separate incidents where inmates escaped and last week, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced the termination of five corrections workers.

Here is the full article.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar