Mentoring Positives celebrated the opening of their new storefront Muriel’s Place on May 18, a name honoring the late Muriel Pipkins, mother of Mentoring Positives founder Will Green. Excited community members and friends of the Mentoring Positives program gathered at the storefront on the ground floor of the Ella Apartments on E. Washington Ave. to mark the opening. The location is perfect for the organization that focuses efforts on providing opportunities for mentorship and community for young people of Madison’s Darbo-Worthington neighborhood and beyond.
Muriel’s Place will serve dine-in lunch and dinner starting three days a week with proceeds going right back to Mentoring Positives programs. Mentoring Positives youth, who for years have made and sold their famous Off the Block pizzas and salsas, will do so right in the building and will now be able to serve the customers right there, too.
Madison real estate developer Anne Neujahr Morrison spoke first at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Muriel’s Place explaining that she first heard about Will Green a couple of years ago amidst discussions about a revitalized East Washington Avenue.
“There was an article about all the changes on East Washington, and he (Will Green) was quoted in it saying, ‘Do not forget about Darbo. How will you make plans for this community? Don’t forget about us,'” she said as she recalled seeking out how to get in contact with Green.
Neujahr Morrison, along with her sister, Sarah Neujahr, partnered with Mentoring Positives through their firm, New Year Investments, to make Muriel’s Place a reality. Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, also remembered his first encounters with Green in the early 2000s when Mentoring Positives first started to take shape.
Brandon recalled knowing that, “Where there’s a Will, there’s a way,” in seeing Green’s ability to both have an idea and manifest it into reality through dedication and persistence.
“Will said, ‘I have a vision for a place, a physical place for Mentoring Positives. A place where the whole community, not just this part of the community, but the whole community can see the work that we do,’” said Brandon, recalling a conversation had during a Mentoring Positives outreach effort at The Beacon.
“Two years later, here we are in that space. Will and Becky have built a space, but maybe more importantly, they built a legacy.”
Mentoring Positives co-founders Will Green and Becky Green were joined by their two daughters at the event, as well as many of the Mentoring Positives youth and staff. Green was joined by his two brothers, Antwan Pipkins and Tony Wilbon, while discussing the journey they all made from Gary, Indiana, where they were born and raised.
“Thinking about my brothers and what we grew up with, and how my mother really took care of us, we are opening Muriel’s Place today,” Green says. “You see Mentoring Positives, but we’re gonna call this place Muriel’s Place. If my mom was here today…well she is, she’s here. You see her right here inside of us. She was a very special lady.”
Green spoke of how athletics helped him and his brothers overcome struggles in Gary, Indiana, to eventually lead to his own efforts to help youth facing struggles to develop skills and participate in their community. Green also thanked the community and supporters who have enabled the Mentoring Positives journey throughout its growth.
“I appreciate everyone coming out here today,” said Green. “All the relationships that I’ve had. There’s no words to express opening up this space.”
Muriel’s Place is located at 2844 E. Washington Ave.