Local man creates special garden to connect with Milwaukee youth

MILWAUKEE – It could be called a garden with secret power, a field that grows dreams and a plot with purpose. It is located at 1313 W. Reservoir in Milwaukee.

“I was born to teach little black boys that they can,” exclaims Andre Ellis.

He created a special garden as a way to connect with Milwaukee’s youth.

Ellis shares, “As long as they have their hands in the ground, they can keep them from pulling the trigger on a gun.”

Ellis dedicates his life to mentoring young people.

“You ask how many of you don’t know your father, and 90 of them raise their hands. I am not the biological father, I am the father of the land,” he said.

Ellis has mentored 24-year-old Anthony LaPointe since LaPointe was 14. Today, LaPointe is a student at UW-Whitewater. He was raised in a fatherless home and considers Ellis his father.

LaPointe notes, “Mr. André has always been like a haven of peace.”

He calls Ellis “Pops”.

“It’s like a nickname that comes with status to show her respect and give her flowers. It’s more of respect. It’s not just a thank you from me, but from other boys who have benefited from him,” LaPointe said.

Ellis has been there for thousands of young people over the years.

LaPointe adds: “You can go see Mr. André and you can tell him exactly what you are going through, he might even guess it.

His garden has been fertile ground for keeping young people off the streets.

Ellis reflects, “There is a lot of pain in our community. I get some of the toughest guys, who have high powered guns, pistols and instruments come to me before they make mistakes.

Ellis believes we can all help troubled youth survive and thrive. It plants powerful messages outside the garden. It includes an annual black tie event for hundreds of young people.

“You give me three to six months in the garden here, we’re busy, they come here diligently every day, when I bring them back to court, they’ll have a job,” Ellis said. “Just because you miss doesn’t mean you have to lose. My approach is to teach people down below how to fly.”

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip