Article by Bobjohnson

During the day he develops programs that bring families together. By night he is busy pulling the city together. He is a part of a very quiet society of super heroes who continue to do what is necessary to help Saginaw. Meet Rahmaan Kelley. His super power: Clairvoyance. In a city where many have given up hope and moved out, Kelley is a visionary who sees great things in Saginaw’s future.

He is a man who understands the importance of family and community and lives that value in his many activities. On the career side of his life, Kelley works as the Teen and Family Director at the Saginaw YMCA, where he develops faith-based programs that promote family time, health and fellowship. "I try to think outside of the box when developing programs, make something that will get kids and parents excited and teach them life skills," says Kelley. For example, Kelley developed the Culinary Arts program that encourages parents to have a discussion with their kids at the dinner table. "Nowadays families grab their plates and eat everywhere except at the dinner table." Kelley continues, "This new culinary arts program not only gets the family to the dinner table, the kids also learn to cook a new dish each week."  Another program is Heavenly Hoops, which lets teenagers play basketball on Saturdays and worship together in church on Sundays. For this Kelley explains, "The goal is to get them to be tolerable of other religions."

Yet Kelley also has another side that comes into play when he is no longer on the clock at his day job. In his free time, Kelley is a businessman and events promoter. "I am currently working with investors and business owners to help change the business climate in Saginaw," Kelley says. "There are some . . . properties and ideas that we have talked to the city and other political leaders about, and they seem to show support," he says, adding that put-put golf in the downtown area is one of the many projects he is currently working on.

Kelley holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Master’s in Management, but that alone was not enough to get him accepted by Saginaw’s investors and business owners. As he explains, "My first job was to prove that I was credible, reputable in building infrastructure that the community and surrounding businesses could benefit from." 

One problem that Kelley is still trying to solve is the division in the city, a long intractable issue. "There is a cultural line between where money is spent in terms of the township and the city as well as leisure time. I think in order for businesses to thrive in this region, we need to integrate the two, but before that happens there needs to be a cultural understanding. We need to understand each other," Kelley says. How this understanding will come about remains to be seen.

As an events promoter Kelley has brought comedians, singers, musicians—even a hair show—to the Saginaw area. Kelley remembers when he recreated Showtime at the Apollo at the Saginaw International Centre and says he would love to do that again. "Putting together the Divine Women of Praise and Song at Victorious Believers was my favorite,” says Kelley. In May of 2010 he arranged the Kiss & Tell Tour featuring Ginuine & Tank.

Kelley is proving that he cares about Saginaw as a whole—from family to community to recreation.  Although few have yet stepped outside of the personal gain box to help the community, Rahmaan Kelley leads by example. Can others be far behind?

You can e-mail Rahmaan Kelley at rahmaankelley[at]yahoo.com.

© Bobjohnson, 2010