Rick Sierchio was never obligated to do anything for my brother and I. Yet he became our “Uncle Ricky,” and our lives were shaped by his love and guidance.
Uncle Ricky wasn’t my uncle in the strict sense. He was the brother of my mom’s high school friend. At some point during my young childhood, he made a choice to invest in my brother and I, merely out of a deep-set sense of love and justice.
A small sample of things he did to show love:
- He spent untold hours with us, including participating in “father-son” activities, when we were being raised solely by our mother and grandparents.
- He prayed for us that we would become Christians. (I only found out about this last month.) His prayers were answered in 1993 (my brother) and 1995 (me).
- We spent weeks with him during the summer, after he made a move to Arizona. During a visit he let made me jump off his roof into his pool. I was around my sons’ ages. Say what?!
- He semi-ridiculed me because I waited so long to get my driver’s license, (“You’re going to college and you’ll ask a girl out. When you pick her up, you’ll say, ‘You can ride on my bike handlebars.’”) But when I finally got my license, he was the first person I wanted to call, and he was my loudest cheerleader.
- After not having seen him in over a decade, he made a four-hour round trip to see me play in a college football game, even though I barely played and we only got to catch up for about 30 minutes after the game.
Uncle Ricky supported me. He pushed me. He encouraged me. He was there for me.
In other words . . . He was a mentor, long before mentoring was a “thing.”
And thanks to Facebook, we reconnected a few years ago. And thanks to Delta Skymiles (and “Uncle Ricky” still loving me), I got to take my boys to Arizona to spend a long weekend with him.
And I learned this: he is still a mentor to me, and in some sense he is now a mentor to my sons. I couldn’t be happier.
Father’s Day Is Over
Every year, The Mentoring Project has an initiative called “Don’t Buy the Tie.” John Sowers, founder and president, uses this project to bring awareness to the 25 million youth who don’t have a dad to celebrate. These are youth that need love, guidance, and encouragement. These are youth that need mentors.
Father’s Day is now gone, but the need for mentors isn’t. Sowers wrote one of the most influential books that I’ve ever read, The Fatherless Generation. In particular, I was challenged by the chapters that speak to Fatherless Boys and Fatherless Girls.
The need for male mentors (for boys) and female mentors (for girls) is all around us. It’s around you. Are you doing your part?
Father’s Day is over. But for 25 million youth in the country, it has been over for a long time, or never existed at all. You cannot replace a father, but you can make empty Father’s Days a little less painful.
Your Call to Action
First, if you’ve never read Fatherless Generation, get your copy ASAP. It will either change your views on the why we need mentoring, or it will inspire you to continue.
Second, get involved with mentoring. We are blessed to be surrounded by great organizations who focus on mentoring youth. Just a few I know:
- The Mentoring Project
- Mentor Upstate
- Elevate Youth (Disclaimer: This is the organization I lead.)
- Mill Village Farms
- Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Miracle Hill Foster Care
These organizations need your financial support, and they need your time. Quality mentoring programs have proven results, and they are laying a life-long (and maybe even an eternal) foundation.
Uncle Ricky became a mentor, before mentoring was a “thing,” without any formal organization or any mandate from a pushy blogger like me.
Why can’t you?
- The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do the Break the Cycle of Poverty
- The Mentor Act
- The Hope for Unseen Greenville
- Getting Powered for Life
- The Influence of Fathers (According to Science) (from Art of Manliness)