Male Mentors Needed
(Memphis) Several Mid-South mentoring organizations cite a major shortage of men signing up as mentors.
Big Brothers Big Sisters currently has a list of more than 70 boys between the ages of six and 14 waiting to be matched with mentors.
Executive Director Adrienne Bailey said the wait time for each boy varies, because of the location and age of mentors and mentees. Sometimes matching two people takes only a week, and in other cases the wait can go on for months.
At Youth Villages, 52 boys across West Tennessee are also waiting to be matched with male mentors.
At Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, about 30 outside volunteers mentor boys one-on-one at each of their five centers. But a representative said they’re trying hard to increase that number, so more boys can have one-on-one attention.
Kathleen Scroggins, a mother of three, said she approached Big Brothers Big Sisters in an attempt to get mentors for her two sons, ages 12 and nine.
She was told there could be a long wait.
“Their father is currently in rehab because he’s fallen to drugs, so he’s not present in their lives. And they’re getting older, and I’m just becoming inadequate as a father figure towards them,” Scroggins said.
She said her oldest son has had some trouble adjusting to a new school and has gotten into some trouble already.
When she learned of the shortage of male mentors, she said, “It saddens my heart. We need to step up for these children, for all of the children.”
Success stories are everywhere.
Jeremy Whittaker, a former “little brother” of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, has now become a mentor himself.
Whittaker first joined the program at age 10.
“[My mentor] was the one I could talk to about girls. You know, the issues that might come up or your average high school teenager. And he was there from 6th grade, even to now,” he said.
Whittaker’s parents are highly educated, with a mom who has a PhD and a dad with a master’s degree. So college was never a question, but his parents’ early divorce meant he needed a role model who was successful in career and family life.
“He showed me what it was like to be a man. You know, that you still can do the right thing and be cool.”
Scroggins, Whittaker, and all the representatives from these organizations are hoping to get the message out to men who can make a difference.
They stress that mentoring doesn’t necessarily involve elaborate trips with the kids. Mentors can just take a couple of hours to have mentees join them on activities they already do. The kids just want to spend some time with an adult who cares.
Any men and women who are interested, please contact the following organizations:
Big Brothers Big Sisters: (901) 323-5440
Boys and Girls Club: (901) 278-2947 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Villages: (901) 252-2898