Group Mentoring is a new program for the 4C Coalition that is based upon a familiar idea. We believe the group dynamic will help address the shortage of male mentors — an unavoidable result of our firm and necessary policy that the one-one-one mentoring relationship be gender matched between mentor and mentee.
We fear the tragic consequences for society when insufficient numbers of men sign up for the mentorship role, while a large number of youth boys await mentors. Particularly when the wait exceeds a youth’s ability to hang on and resist other influences.
We must address these critical issues:
- A disproportionate number of youth we serve are African American males who more readily form a trusting bond with African American mentors.
- Despite our targeted effort to recruit African American men as mentors, few men volunteer to mentor our at-risk youth.
- Adults who volunteer as mentors appear statistically in this numeric order (highest to lowest):
1. White women
2. Women of color
3. White men
4. Men of color
Meet Some 4C Group Mentors
How did you get involved with mentoring? “I wanted to get involved with the program because working with, and influencing young kids is one of the things I want to do moving forward. I heard about the
group mentoring program from a couple of my advisors at the UW. I played football at the UW and signed with the NFL before I graduated. Now, after four years of pro ball I’m back in school to finish what I started and get my degree.
”Who were (or are) your mentors? “My father, who’s a retired pastor, and John Reed, the high school coordinator at Union Gospel Mission come to mind first. Also, there’s Trent Pollard, my high school football coach at Rainer Beach High School, and coach Nick Holt at UW. I’ve been blessed to have so many mentors in my life.
”What is the most rewarding thing about being a mentor? “It’s rewarding to me when I’m with mentees and I know I have their undivided attention. It feels good when I’ve been able to tell them some of the mistakes, I’ve made … in hopes that they will take it to heart and think about decisions they’re making.”
How did you get involved with 4C and mentoring? “I heard about the 4C mentoring program from my friend Rick Dupree, I’m currently mentoring five youth and am preparing to do after school mentor programing at three local middle and high schools.
Who were (or are) your mentors? “I was lucky that I had several mentors after I became an adult … my parents did a great job raising me, but I also had the village as a child.”
What is the most rewarding thing about being a mentor? “I’ve been mentoring kids for a long time. So, what’s most rewarding to me is seeing some of the youth that I mentored 25 to 30 years ago living successful lives as adults. Some of them have played pro sports and some are now doctors, lawyers, and successful business men and women.”
What is the most challenging thing about being a mentor? “Observing parents who are not raising their kids to be the best from my perspective that child can be. I have to, a lot of times, be a mentor to the parent as well as their child.”
Anything else you want to tell me about yourself? “I semi-retired back in 2006 … I was a fitness and general manager at many fitness centers for many years and still enjoy working out and lifting weights. I have coached strength training for many years. And have used that a platform to reach youth and influence their lives in a positive way. I’m actually currently writing a book about my 35+ years working with youth.”
How did you get connected with 4C mentoring? “One of my professors suggested I look into getting involved. While I get credit for doing this, it’s not really about the class credit. I’m just interested in nonprofit organization for kids because that’s something I would like to do sometime.”
What is your role as a mentor? “My role here is to inspire these kids. And, note how non-profits perform.”
Did you have a mentor growing up? “I’ve had many mentors and still do. I have really great parents who are my real mentors. I asked lots of people for advice and I consider them mentors. My coaches are also my mentors. My grandmother used to tell me that I have two ears and one mouth and that means you should listen twice as much as you talk. So I listen.”
Note: John and the other student athletes are participating in the PEN OR PENCIL (POP) Group Mentoring in Central Seattle. The program’s goal is to inform and inspire a modern youth movement of engaged planners, leaders, and decision makers.Serving youth ages 12-17
Mentors seek to inspire critical thinking, life skills development, and youth activism — encouraging youth to choose the road away from incarceration and toward higher education.
Russel Okung, pro football player, with Dustin, a 4C mentee at Denny Middle School.
Russell Okung, former Seattle Seahawk, now a Denver Bronco visited 4C mentees participating in our group mentoring program. His visit, scheduled later in the year, was last minute as has recently signed to play with the Denver Broncos and will be moving on. As part of his visit, he met with 26 male students to inspire and motivate. He focused on the importance of passing their core classes and taking advantage of opportunities in life.