Sons Of Thunder

A non-profit organization that encourages inner city youths to understand the importance of strong educational performance and the establishment of sound career goals by using committed mentors while simultaneously exposing them to athletic, recreational and educational programming


We are a youth development program, founded as a direct response to the “Million Man March”, originally occurring on October 16, 1995. Returning to Hartford, many community activists were fueled by the need and desire to do something concrete to help inner-city youths. The issues were clear: children needed positive, constructive activities, especially during the often dangerous and long summer months. They needed positive and accessible role models: people to help them pursue an education, hold down successful professional careers, take care of themselves and their families – people who look like them … and care about them. The Sons of Thunder Coalition serves and benefits inner-city youth, predominately low-income residents of Hartford. Participation is primarily focused on boys due to the severe need for positive role models, and the SONS’ proven ability to provide effective mentoring and programming in a gender-specific setting. These youths are “recruited” by way of presentations made by volunteers and board members at local public schools in Greater Hartford.


Where did "Sons of Thunder" come from?

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve designating them apostles - that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James, son of Zebedee and his brother Hohn (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder…(Mark 3:13-17) In Hebrew the word Thunder is translated as “qol”, referring to the voice of Jehovah. In addition, Boanerges is the Aramaic name Jesus gave to James and John, which referred to their zealous, fiery disposition. Some say, in the case of James, his passionate personae may have led to his execution. The Sons of Thunder were said to be men of strong commitment, faith and passion, who were unafraid to be mouth pieces for God, even if it cost them their lives. Hence, we have the meaning behind the name of The Sons of Thunder Coalition. The Son’s of Thunder Coalition was developed in 1995 by Rev. Michael and Rev. Shelley Copeland. It was created as a tangible, ecumenical, Christian response to the “Million Man March”. Through the work of the Coalition, the lives of urban adults and youth are enhanced through mentoring programs, career and educational exploration and urban basketball leagues. Since it’s inception, The Coalition has served over 1,000 mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers throughout Connecticut.

2019 Board of Directors

Kevin Budds

Broker, RBC Wealth Management

Randy LaVigne

Business Manager, Bloomfield Animal Hospital

Richard Quinn

Retired Principal, East Hartford Public Schools

Gerald Martin

Retired Principal, Hartford Public Schools

Charisse Jernigan

Certified Kindergarten Teacher, Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School

Nichole Murphy

Behavioral Technician, Adelbrook Behavioral Health, Inc.

Peter Harris

Dean of Students, Manchester Community College

Christopher Fulton

Assistant Principal, Capitol Prep Magnet School

Lou Lapenna

hysical Education Teacher, Bulkeley High School

Gertrude Banks

Open Choice Intervention Specialist, Simsbury Public Schools

Gregory Hatten

Digital Technology Director