Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Mentor Chronicles Part 1

Yesterday I finally met my little brother in the mentoring program. I was a little nervous about it because you never know what you are getting into with kids in this city. I don’t think we need to beat around the bush or sugar coat it any. Some of these kids have rough situations. The kids themselves have no choice but to act a certain way to survive. After talking with his grandmother you can tell she’s trying to keep him from getting to that point. She seems to be calling on every resource she can to make sure he has a positive influence. I respect her openness and honesty because she didn’t try to hide anything. She gave me the full story. It was almost too much information for me. I guess she wanted me to know everything going on with him. It probably would have scared me if I didn’t grow up with kids just like him. I looked at him and thought about my friends and I know that unless someone intervenes early on a lot of these little boys are headed for the newspaper as the victim of a crime or the perpetrator. I have a good friend working in juvenile probation so I know the situation is critical.

He’s just a big baby. At ten years old he still has the little boy in him. I remember when I was ten years old and a lot of my friends were still playing and having fun. Somewhere around the age of thirteen things started changing and by 16 it was basically all over. I don’t want to think that I am going to be responsible for keeping my little brother from making that change to the streets. Feeling that sense of responsibility is one of the reasons why my dad told me not to get involved in programs like this. He knew I might get too wrapped up in everything. He might be right as usual but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

To my benefit I am still a big kid at heart so we had a nice conversation on professional wrestling and the positives and negatives of John Cena. I told him I was more of an old school cat and would turn him on to some Junkyard Dog clips. I knew watching that stuff for 30 years was going to come in handy one day. He was a little too young to be impressed with the fact that I could still name the starting lineup for the ’86 Saints off the top of my head but I knew the 2009 version so I was still winning. We will see how things go from here. Don’t send me any comments congratulating me because I haven’t done anything. I’m just trying to be part of the village since we all have to live here. I’ll keep you posted.


Maitri said...

You're a brave man, Cliff. I'm too afraid of having my heart broken or dealing with drama. My friend housed and mentored two amazing young men and one of the boys was gunned down a few weeks back because he couldn't keep from engaging his past ghosts. I just hope my friend doesn't feel guilt. She is great and did all she could. So did the boy's mom.

I'm not saying this to be negative but just echoing your dad's thoughts. Anyway, I hope your little brother knows how lucky he is to have you.

K. said...

Good on you, Cliff. At some level, an adult male showing this boy care and respect will make a difference in his life. It may not turn him into a saint, but it will help and it certainly won't hurt.

I've been volunteering for this organization. I used to work with the founder; whenever I run into her I tell her that she should set up shop in New Orleans. Now I can add that I have just the guy to run it for her!

bayoucreole said...

Thank you for being a part of the village. Too many brothers don't even try Cliff and we are losing our young men to the streets.
Thank you!