taking a break from cynicism
I'm a pretty cynical person (especially on this blog), but sometimes there are good reminders that it is possible to make a difference in someone's life, even if we can't fix the big, structural messes. A friend from Austin, Ben DeLeon, was named Big Brother of the Year for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This week, Ben and his Little Brother Anthony, whom he's been mentoring for four years, got to go to the White House to meet President & Mrs. Obama. Even better, Anthony got to introduce the president before a speech on the importance of mentoring for National Mentoring Month. (You can watch the video above.)
Can you imagine the thrill of being eleven years old and getting to speak at the White House? Anthony's from a family that's gone through some hard times, but thanks to the commitment of a supportive family and one person who cares enough to spend time with him, he has goals, a positive male role model, and the chance at breaking the cycle of generational poverty and really making it.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters always needs mentors. There's a particular need for men, especially Hispanic and African-American men, to volunteer. It doesn't take a huge commitment (if you're going to play basketball or video games, you just invite the kid along for a total of four hours a month), but it can make an incredible difference in a kid's life.
(Also, a big shout out to Ben's wife Shannon, who got their house clean with 22 minutes' notice that a news crew was coming to film Ben as he packed for the trip. Her house looked great on the Austin news! :)