I highly commend the July 24 story “Building ties that bind” in the “Faith and Values” section. In describing the mentoring relationship between a volunteer police officer and an 8-year-old boy, the article inspires the role that many of us could undertake in crossing the racial divide in Charleston and contributing to the much-needed development of youngsters absent one parent, most often a father.
I salute the work of “Big Brothers Big Sisters” in matching mature and caring adult volunteers with children much in need of the guidance. I myself experienced a ten-year mentoring relationship with a boy from Johns Island, seeing him through his school years to his graduation from the School of the Arts.
I supported and encouraged the growth of his talents and helped him through rough days with academics and personal struggles. I became an “alternate father,” and both of our lives were immensely enriched. He is now a successful performance dancer, locally-employed and a student at Trident Tech, aiming for a career in dance with a national company.
Not all volunteers need to hang in there for ten years, but even a few years with a few hours each week can make a tremendous difference. For the community at large, this kind of volunteering can lead to drug prevention, crime reduction and increased self-esteem and academic success for the youth served.
Imagine if hundreds more adults in our city took on such a role, if we followed Gen. Colin Powell’s call for mentoring volunteers nationwide. We could have a positive impact that is lasting and meaningful.
Ron Anton Rocz