John Wilson, Director of the Boys and Girls Club, Monrovia presented the program held at the Arboretum. The Boys and Girls Clubs have structured programs for “at risk” or “disadvantaged” youth. Programs like leadership, career, arts, sports etc.
And the need is great – Services doubled in the last year under John’s leadership to 170 per day at the Shamrock location in Monrovia, and 130 per day at a second location.
The programs for the kids are only a piece. These kids don’t have good influencers in their lives and often choose the wrong thing. Mentors help fill the void. An “older caring adult” is considered “trusted by nature” by these kids.
John related the success stories of lives completely turned around. One boy whose father was killed in a gang shooting – mentoring helped him get through high school and to go on to college, the first in his family. Another girl had to steal to feed her younger sister – the mother was a drug addict who would steal from her own daughter! That girl is now in college.
Mentoring is not trying to fix everything, John explained, but to add values, “developmental assets” as they are called, each year… and it takes years of mentoring to help the kids. The Search Institute (www.search-institute.org) lists 40 developmental assets that are the building blocks for young people to grow healthy, caring and responsible. Mentors can help add one to three assets per year.
Without help these kids become a burden to our society. Juvenile hall costs $240 per day. School dropouts COST society $200- $300,000. High School graduates ADD $200- $300,000 to the economy.
The Boys and Girls Club contribution monetarily has been calculated at $16.42 for every dollar spent. It factors in that young girls do not get pregnant and parents allowed to work. 90% of Boys and Girls club kids finish High School. 50% say it saved their lives (from gangs, drugs… and death).
Mentors are asked to commit to one hour per week for at least a year… and like Rotary, they make a difference.