Early in life, Eddie Melton envisioned himself working with others to make the community a better place for all ages, but especially for future generations. That vision for his own future has led this Merrillville resident to the various facets of his career and to volunteer activities that bring out the best in others.
Melton grew up in Gary and was the quarterback for Horace Mann High School’s football team. “I went down to Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky after high school,” he says. “But I always knew I wanted to come back and work to better the community and to work with youth.”
Leaving KSU because he needed to financially support his family after one member had a stroke, Melton returned to Gary and started working with programs at Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living, a Gary-based mental health and addiction services facility. He ran an after-school program funded through U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky that brought together young people, mentors and activities.
“The ‘No Workshops No Jump shots’ program was tied to athletics,” Melton says. “We brought in speakers, emphasized college prep and went on tours and visits. The youth had to attend the workshops before they could participate in the athletics.” Melton says that program also helped him become an advocate and voice for area youth.
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“It is difficult for adults to hear what youth say and for the youth to articulate their concerns,” he says. As a result, Melton started a company called Redd Carpet Achievement to help families connect with mentoring and tutoring in the community.
Melton has transitioned his company to help those who want to become mentors and tutors by providing advice and coaching.
“It’s rewarding to be able to affect the lives of young African-American males,” he says. “I get to see the end result and see them become productive citizens.”
He also transitioned into other career opportunities—still with an emphasis on helping young people create better futures. During his tenure with The Legacy Foundation, Melton worked to provide educational opportunities, mentoring and tutoring for children in such high poverty municipalities as Hammond, Gary, East Chicago and Lake Station.
In early August, Melton joined NIPSCO/NiSource as a communications specialist who works with the philanthropic arm of area companies and other organizations. “I’m staying in the genre of helping the community and its youth and staying with mentoring and youth by strengthening the ability of philanthropic organizations to communicate and work together,” he says.
To facilitate his community work, Melton is a member of a number of organizations’ boards. These include serving as chairman of the education committee with the Gary-based Community Organization for Families and Youth (C.O.F.Y.). He continues helping The Legacy Foundation as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCA to “improve the quality of life in Gary.”
Melton is on the board of the Friends of Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts and says he is “a proud graduate of Leadership Northwest Indiana.” In addition he is treasurer of the Indiana Blacks in Philanthropy network that includes such philanthropic organizations and corporations as the Lilly Foundation, the Lumina Foundation and the Foundations of East Chicago, Melton says.
He returned to college, enrolling at Calumet College of St. Joseph to pursue a B.A. degree in organizational management. Melton will complete his degree this year. He also loves spending time with his family—wife, Crystal and their “four beautiful children”: Aniya, 9; Melanie, 4; Eddie Jr., 2 and the newest addition, 5-month old Christian. “There’s never a dull moment in life,” he says.
Melton credits his step-father, Charles Tucker, for helping make him the man he is. “My step-father taught me to be a man,” he says. “There were a lot of other people who also helped me along the way.” Those lessons helped transform Melton into “a great young man among us,” says one of the people who nominated him for the 20 Under 40 class of 2010.
“Changing men’s lives wakes him up at 2 and 3 in the morning. His life is a story of commitment,” says Tarry Martin. “Whether it is his tireless work within the community or his prowess in the boardroom, he has proven that this is his passion.”