Monday, October 29, 2012

Tradesman Mentoring

Gerald Scott (right) has a big heart, an even bigger vision, and a successful plan.  He recently participated as a panelist at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence's Fall Forum on October 23, 2012.  Read more about his program through the recent publicity from The Oklahoman below and from his website.
Oklahoma City mentoring ministry helps at-risk youths

The Tradesman, part of the Oklahoma City-based Services That Assist And Redeem (STARR) ministry program, is pairing young men with positive male role models to help them take the right path toward a successful future.

By Carla Hinton | Published: October 20, 2012

The Rev. Gerald Scott, of Oklahoma City, is sure his life would be different without the positive influence of several men who helped nurture him to adulthood.

Scott, 51, said he fit several statistics associated with at-risk youths because he was raised by his mother after his parents divorced when he was 9, and then his father died when he was 14.

He said he became a leader at his high school and went on to graduate from college, partly due to the aid of men including a local pastor, a high school history teacher and a school administrator who each saw leadership potential in him “even though I didn't see it in myself.”

Scott said he started the Tradesman mentoring ministry in April 2011 to provide godly mentors to young men whose circumstances are less than ideal.

The mentoring project is part of Scott's Services That Assist And Redeem, or STARR, ministry program.

Scott, a licensed and ordained minister, said the Tradesman ministry is now focused on helping youths on probation with the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Bureau. He said about 36 young men are in the program, and they are paired with about 10 local volunteers who want to give back to youths in much the same way the mentors of Scott's childhood helped him.

“They didn't call it mentoring back then, but that's what it was,” Scott said.

“Our mission with Tradesman is to enrich the lives of Oklahomans to help them get better.”

Scott said Oklahoma City Thunder NBA star Kevin Durant says that all the time.

“Anytime he gets in front of the microphone he says, ‘I just want to get better.' Well, so many people want an opportunity to get better, an opportunity to change their lives,” Scott said.

Biblical premise

Scott said the premise behind the Tradesman program is biblical, particularly Malachi 4:6, which says, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Scott said the ministry's volunteers come from all walks of life and become father figures to the young men with whom they spend one to two hours a week at the youth's home or at a location in the community. He said many at-risk youth have problems with authority, and the mentoring program aims to educate them about the role of authority figures in their lives.

Scott said the Tradesman curriculum is called Positive Youth Development, a juvenile justice curriculum that includes spirituality as a component. He said the Tradesman ministry expands on that to teach young men biblical virtues to guide them in the future. Scott said the mentors teach the youths attributes such as integrity, accountability and sincerity, from what he called “the wisdom chapter” — Proverbs 4.

“The fields are ripe for them to have that information poured into them,” he said.

Scott, who attends The Gate Church, said mentors working with youths in the juvenile justice system help the young men create an individual development plan designed to help them successfully complete their probation and build on their assets. The mentors help the youths set positive goals such as completing high school, attending college or taking steps toward some type of job apprenticeship.

Scott said he is always recruiting mentors and thanks God for those he has. He said the ministry also is grateful to its community partners, including Mount Triumph Baptist Church, Tinker Air Force Junior Force Council, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, Metro Career Academy, the Oklahoma State Health Department, Work Force Oklahoma, Tinker Federal Credit Union and the Oklahoma College Assistance Program.

“Since this is about redemption, if we come together, we can change those statistics,” Scott said.

Changing lives

Scott said many of the young men in the program are transformed from individuals who feel alienated from society to youths who have a hope for the future. He said many of them leave the program with more stable relationships with their families, and some have gone back to school after being truant.

Kim Caldwell, of Oklahoma City, said her son Marcellus Caldwell, 15, has shown progress in the Tradesman program.

“It has helped with his communication and interaction skills, and I can see a difference as far as his outlook on life, even spiritually,” she said.

She said talking with her son's mentor, Karlin Williamson, has helped her in her role as a parent and has aided the family, which includes her husband and Marcellus' father, in general.

“Me and Karlin would talk, and he would say he was approaching things different, and it has enabled me to learn about how to approach things,” she said. “Karlin is really a blessing — caring and compassionate. He has made such a difference.”

Williamson, 36, said he saw something interesting in Marcellus: himself.

“He reminded me of me when I was a teenager, the way he was dealing with problems, the way he reacted to questions — it was familiar,” Williamson said.

He said the two have been meeting for about nine months, and the young man is doing well.

Williamson said he works with his mentees in their homes to help them develop short-term and long-term goals. He said he takes them to the local YMCA or community center to play sports together or do things such as learn to play drums when they are making progress in the program.

Williamson said, above all, it's important to help the young person realize that he has to want to improve his life. Sometimes, the closer a youth gets to completing his goal, the tougher it gets, he said.

But that's where Williamson said he comes in — to help motivate them to see that their future can be much brighter than they may have envisioned.

“I want to see them succeed,” he said. “That's what I want.”

For more on the mentoring program:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Local Theater Publicity - Time Sensitive

In promoting mentoring and providing resources, the Boren Mentoring Initiative is in the process of planning a 2013 Oklahoma youth mentoring campaign as well as recognizing one mentor (and his or her mentee) on Oklahoma Mentor Day, January 16, 2013, at the State Capitol.  We will announce more details in the future; however, we have a local public relatons issue requiring immediate action on your part.

In order to have a public service announcement (PSA) at your local theater, you must far in advance contact the theater to learn the process and specifications to submit a mentoring PSA; permission is not granted locally but corporately from the chain or distributor.  The Boren Mentoring Initiative will be unable to contact your local theaters.

Currently, we have permission for one PSA during a limited time slot at the Harkins Bricktown Theater in Oklahoma City. 

From the National Mentoring Partnership, we will receive materials which each organization can use for a PSA, but we are also working with the University of Oklahoma to create materials for an Oklahoma campaign.  Whichever route you may choose, please contact your local theaters now to process your request.  The PSAs will be generic, either using the National Mentoring Month theme of "Mentoring Works" or the theme and imagery of the Oklahoma campaign. 

Although running the mentoring PSA in January, National Mentoring Month, would be ideal, any time you can book during 2013 will be perfect.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mentors Matter in Pottawatomie County

On October 17th, United Way of Pottawatomie County hosted "A Cup of Joe & A Donut Hole," a cordial and fun come-and-go for its recently developed Mentors Matter initiative.

Mentors Matter will work with mentoring organizations in Pottawatomie County to increase their capacity and recruit qualified mentors.  We envision a community where every child at risk of not achieving their full potential will be matched with a caring adult mentor.

Michael Shaw, United Way board member, vice drive chair, and Shawnee businessman, is the impassioned leader of this program.  For a few years, Michael not only worked in Tulsa but participated in Tulsa Public Schools' College Access, Career Readiness, sponsored by Tulsa Metro Chamber and The Higher Ed Forum.  In that program, a CACR coach goes into the classroom twice a month to work with students on career pathways, choices, and post-secondary options.  What Shaw learned and saw in Tulsa became a catalyst for increasing mentoring in the Shawnee area.

Pictured above at the breakfast are Larry Gill, Michael Shaw and Audrey Seeliger--with doughnut holes and gallons of coffee!

Shaw and Seeliger, director of the United Way of Pottawatomie County, launched a needs assessment, community survey, and a solution--Mentors Matter.

See more. 

Mentors Matter next will host a hotdog dinner at Oklahoma Baptist University to create awareness and recruit mentors.

Congratulations to Seeliger, Shaw, and others in United Way for their efforts to transform Pottawatomie County youth through mentoring, a method research proves helps mentees academically, socially and emotionally.

Attending the event from the Avedis Foundation are Paula Waters, program director; Michelle Briggs, executive director; and Brooke Webb, administrative assistant.       
Not photographed here but essential was attendee Cyndi Munson, community programs manager for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, who told Beverly at the Boren Mentoring Initiative about this event.  Ah, the power of networking...
Clever logo!



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lights On Afterschool 2012

This is a first-time unified effort to spotlight Lights On Afterschool, a national event, in Oklahoma City.  Within a few weeks, directors of Oklahoma City afterschool programs of all kinds brainstormed and volunteered to have a little fun and show parents and the community what is available for their youth.  Next year will be even a bigger showcase of talent, fun, and organizations. 

Perhaps those of you in other communities around Oklahoma will host your own event next October.  We will offer advance information for 2013. 

Thanks to OKAN and Junior League of Oklahoma City for inviting us to participate.

Turn on yellow lights for Lights On Afterschool 2012! 

By the way, Jabee Williams has written and performed a song for and about Oklahoma City.  Here is an excerpt.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mentoring and Tutoring Program in Alva

Ms. Schaun Aker
On a recent trip to Alva, I finally had the great fortune to meet the librarian and mentoring director at Alva's Lincoln Elementary.  Having moved from Illinois, Schaun Aker is new to Oklahoma, but she already loves the state, the town, the school, and the students!  Schaun and I had emailed and talked by phone about her program previously; she is passionate, lively, and fun.

Schaun was in the midst of a Scholastic Book Fair, by which the library and perhaps one other school program could fundraise while encouraging students to read.  In the morning in the hall outside of the library, she had drinks and doughnuts.  As you can see from the photo of a photo, parents and students browsed after eating.

We hope to have one or two Academic All-State Alumni sign up to mentor in the program at Lincoln; the elementary is in walking distance of the school.
Whether the collegians volunteer or not, we are proud of Ms. Aker and her program and of her supportive principal Mr. Argo.

Alva Public Schools also has tutoring and mentoring programs at Washington Elementary, directed by Terri Parson, and Longfellow Elementary, directed by Sarah Green.

Congratulations to Alva!