STOCKBRIDGE — A local government leader is working to shape young men’s minds, and to improve their chances for a better future.
Commissioner Bruce Holmes’ Youth Foundation will kick off its Youth Male Mentoring Program with an informational meeting Saturday, at 10 a.m., in the Fairview Recreation Center, 35 Austin Road, in Stockbridge. The free program is geared toward boys and young men in the fourth through 12th grades.
“We just want to be a positive voice for them, and let them know they can do great things in life,” said Holmes, who represents District V for the Henry County Board of Commissioners. “They see so much negative on TV and in the streets. They need to hear from more positive people, successful people. They need to know that they can accomplish as much as anybody else, as long as they work hard and they make the right choices.”
Holmes initiated his youth foundation in January 2011, and has held various school functions and fund-raisers since that time. The commissioner said in addition to seeking young people in need of mentors, he is also looking for individuals who are interested in helping to guide them.
“We’re also looking for people who want to volunteer as mentors,” said Holmes. “We also will be working with other organizations that mentor youth throughout the county, as well as in the metro area.”
Speakers for the mentoring program will include physicians, attorneys, and individuals from other professional fields. Holmes said participants also will be exposed to theater, classical music, opera, fine dining and other cultural elements.
Holmes will lead the informational meeting with assistance from Chris Willis, the youth foundation’s director of youth development. Willis said the mentoring program also will educate young men on etiquette, how to dress and how to conduct themselves in job interviews.
Willis, a paraprofessional at Austin Road Middle School in Stockbridge, said he launched a mentoring program at the school, and wants to do the same on a countywide level through the commissioner’s new venture.
“We focus on trying to make opportunities for our young men to achieve leadership roles in the community,” said Willis. “I’ve had a lot of people in my life that I learned a lot from. I just want to give it back, and pass it on to the youth now.”
Holmes said no one who comes to the meeting in search of a mentor will be turned away, and the mentors will represent a cross-section of demographics in the community.
“While there will be mentors in attendance, we will be reaching out to the community for others to get involved,” he said.
The commissioner added that all prospective mentors must pass a background check to take part in his program.