If you were to list Reverend Ailes’ accomplishments and how he has been an influencer in Hernando County, it would take more than an article to do so. His friend, Imani Asukile, nominated him as a Hernando Hero and he truly deserves the title.
Reverend Ailes was raised in Harlem, New York and Newark, New Jersey- probably two of the roughest areas in which to grow up. However, Ailes overcame his circumstances and when he grew up, he became an ordained minister. That’s what brought him to our area. He came here with his wife, Regina, in 2013 to “plant a church,” as he puts it. That church is Pristine Spring Hill Baptist Church.
Asukile and Ailes met in 2016 when they were both employed at Pasco Hernando State College. Asukile was Ailes’ direct supervisor and together, they developed the Linking in Faith and Education (L.I.F.E.) Program for the college.
This program connects the students with the community and faith-based organizations to help bridge the gap in education. It acts as a “Resource Broker” for students and community engagement and provides information regarding Faith, Education, and Mental Health.
When Asukile nominated Reverend Ailes for this honor, he commented, “He is tireless in his efforts to make the community a better place to live. He has directed a beautification initiative to clean the streets and provides a platform for members of the clergy and mental health professionals to address depression, loneliness, suicide, and substance abuse through LIFELINE University, an online education learning center. He also works with the county and city governments to address these concerns.”
As a result of the hard work of Reverend Ailes, Imani Asukile, and others, the county has sixteen newly trained students and faith leaders in Mental Health First Aid as of this past August.
For Reverend Ailes, these are not just causes he works for. They are his passion. He had several mentors in his life who molded him into the person he is today. His father, whom Ailes describes as his “best friend,” passed away when Ailes was only six and a half.
Reverend Dr. Clarence P. Grant became a father figure to Ailes and led him into the ministry. Ailes’ grandmother, Tessie Ella Ailes, helped raise him in a wholesome, Christ-centered family.
“When he [his father] passed away, I turned to the Lord. Experiences such as a tragic loss at an early age combined with being raised in the ministry developed a compassion for others, especially young fatherless boys,” Ailes remarks.
“My goal for the next couple of years is to develop social capital by Linking Faith, Education, and Mental Health on both Church and University levels.”
Ailes likens his plan to the Tigris and the Euphrates−two rivers from which some of the first civilizations emerged. He sees a new emergence for people by “creating pathways to educational success and spiritual wellness like the Tigris and the Euphrates of our liberation, twin rivers at the core of our redemption.”
One of Ailes’ focus areas is bettering the South Brooksville community.
“This area [South Brooksville] has been stagnated by old Jim Crow relics and zoning issues. The drive down the road that bears the name of one of the greatest civil rights leaders that ever lived, Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd, is an eyesore littered with trash and overgrowth,” Ailes said.
One of the methods that Ailes and other activists have employed to address these concerns is the Community Relations Committee, which meets every other week. It’s a committee of Community Conversations made up of residents, businesses and nonprofits. These folks also clean up the ditches and pick up the debris.
According to “Psychology Today” magazine, it’s been proven that no matter how rich or poor a neighborhood is, one broken window will lead to many more windows being broken. This is a signal that no one cares. This attitude leads to disorder and increases fear among citizens, which leads them to withdraw from the community and a decrease in social control. This disorder leads to crime. On the other hand, if just one person or a group of people start to clean up an area, that leads to pride among the citizens and improves the environment in many ways.
Asukile comments, “He is a regular attendee at the County Commission Meetings advocating for the community. He made a presentation to the Legislative Delegation. Ailes aims to bring good into the community. His effort to expand awareness of the need for mental therapy during Covid and Post Covid is exemplary. He is making a difference in the faith community and the areas of leisure and recreation, youth, incarceration, civil rights, and other areas of life. His outstanding qualities are persistence, a quick study, and his willingness to confront big challenges.”
Those qualities are truly the definition of a hero.