I remember an instance when I heard our President at the time, George W. Bush, speak to a national audience on ways our nation could be made greater. He suggested that all citizens volunteer in some way to serve their own local communities.
I liked that idea when I heard it. At the time I was struggling with my desire to give to charity. The cynic in me always questions what percentage of my donation to a charity actually reaches the people in need and how quickly it reaches them. The thought of volunteering would allow me to see firsthand the effect of my contribution on those in need and in my community. My next thought was what could I do, what do I have of value to give?
I thought of my relationship with my grown daughters, both of which turned out to be amazing women. I loved being a parent to my daughters and always wanted a son to share some of my more “guy” attributes. I began to consider mentoring a child as a way to give back to the community. The thought of changing a life of a child that needed help seemed perfect. A friend of mine who mentors directed me to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati. (BBBS)
I was impressed with BBBS from the start. Beyond the required background check for mentors they completed a detailed interview in my home to determine the traits in me to make a good match with a child in need within their portfolio. Through this process, Julie the case worker, not only determined I enjoyed watching sports but also that I like participating in them. This, in addition to other characteristics, would be used to find my match.
Into my life walks, or should I say runs, Jazques Peyton. I met Ques for the first time when he was 8 years old. We met at his home with the BBBS case worker and his mother Keya. Ques was very quiet and apprehensive but I could see in his eyes an excitement to start this process. We started out slowly with one hour meetings about once a week. Slowly but surely our time increased, then really picked up as we began signing Ques up for sports teams. Ques took to organized sports immediately and with great enthusiasm. He had never participated before because he didn’t have a father present to assist. Ques enjoys all three major sports, football, basketball and baseball. I’ve been able to help coach Ques’ baseball team which has given me the opportunity to see how he interacts with his peers. I also get a better perspective on his community and culture. Ques and I have developed an incredible relationship; I love him like he is my own son.
A second benefit I had hoped for, and have received, was a closer exposure to a culture other than my own. I have never consider myself or my family racist, yet I did have an ignorance based on my lack of interaction with inner-city and low income cultures. This ignorance lent itself to my lack of compassion for these cultures in my community. I assumed these cultures would feel the same toward my culture. Ques’ family has treated me like a family member, always making me feel welcome and going out of their way to be helpful. I receive the same treatment from his friends and neighbors. My ignorance and ill-conceived judgements faded quickly.
My goal in becoming a mentor to a young man was to enhance and change a life. Although I am not near completion of the process, my goal has been achieved. It has enhanced and changed my life; it provides a fulfillment like none I have ever experienced before.
If you would like to learn more about mentoring or my experience please give me a call; (513) 227-4131
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