Mentor, Like Uncle Ricky

Uncle Ricky

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.

Click here to learn more about this special guy…

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Circles Initiative

Have you heard of the Circle Initiative? Here’s a snapshot:

I’m hankful for this initiative (which is going on all over the country, including right here in Greenville, SC). The mission and success of programs like this is why I firmly believe that relationships are the pathway to solving social issues.

Related Links:

Surprisingly Easy Ways to Get the Gospel into the Schools

Augusta Circle Elementary

Any evangelical Christian would love the opportunity for the gospel to be presented in schools. But we lament the “separation of church and state” and come up with outside programs. And we shy away from programs like in-school mentoring, because they are “secular.”

If this is how we approach this issue, we are thinking about the gospel wrong. We are misunderstanding the full-scope of God’s redemptive work, and we are missing obvious ways to let our light shine, so that God is glorified (Matthew 5:16).

Alvin Reid writes, “The public school campus is arguably the greatest mission field in America.” I agree.

We (the church) can gain immense credibility and have a meaningful impact, by investing in an institution that directly involves more than 85% of all the youth in our country (data here and here). And when you consider that most public school students are growing up in poverty, you know that help is needed.

What can YOU do? I’m glad you asked…

Clubhouse Kids: A Piece of the Puzzle

Let’s be clear about Clubhouse Kids, the new after school program in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood (downtown Greenville, SC).

  • We are not substitute parents. Each of these children have a family that loves them, and that is their primary relationship.
  • We do not offer intensive tutoring and remediation. With the number of volunteers (anywhere from 3-5 on a day) and students (up to 18), we cannot give individual attention to every children who needs help with reading and homework.
  • We are not a counseling service. Some of our students have emotional challenges. While we aim to show love for each child, we don’t have time (or the know-how) to talk in-depth with each student.
  • We are not a local church. While we teach the Bible, communicate the gospel, and pray, we are not a replacement for a community of believers.

We are not replacements for parents, educators, counselors, or churches. But we can be a piece of the puzzle. Home and school are the biggest pieces of these children’s lives, but we believe that we can come alongside those other institutions.

And that’s what we are hearing from our students, their families, and their schools. Here are just a few examples:

You don’t want to miss these…

First Fund: Accelerating Children to Higher Education

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I was working as an in-school tutor (when we lived in Allendale), assisting in math and reading remediation. One second grade boy had been having some significant behavior issues, and the teacher asked me to talk to him in the hallway.

Not wanting to dive right into his behavior problems, I asked him some “warm-up” questions, such as what he likes to do and his favorite foods. But I was shocked by his answer when I asked where he wants to go to college.

I would have understood if he said, “I don’t know.” But he did know. He had an exact answer to this question.

Click here to read exactly why he was sure…

Getting Powered for Life!

Last month, we (Elevate Youth and Mill Village Farms) helped to launch a 16-week program for teenagers, called Powered for Life. We advertised and recruited with the aim of enlisting a diverse range of students. With students coming from six different schools, I think we achieved our goal!

The Powered for Life material is a Bible-centered tool to help prepare young adults for a successful life. It focuses on four main ideas, with the acronym L.I.F.E. –>

Learn more by clicking here…

The Mentor Act

mentoring month 15Jan
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Even if you have not been mentoring, it’s never too late to start!

And why should you be a mentor? First, it’s The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do to Break the Cycle of Poverty.

Second, a child who has a positive role model as a mentor is less likely to commit a crime.

I qualify mentor with “positive role model” because everyone has a mentor. It’s just a matter of what kind of person is mentoring you, and what you are being mentored toward.

Want to learn more? Watch this 3-minute video of men who were “mentored” all the way into prison . . . .

Did you hear what these incarcerated men said:

“I grew up thinking that [drinking a lot of alcohol] was the norm.”

“It could have made a real big difference in my life, of having a mentor outside of my circle.”

“Depending on what you feed your mind at that age, depending on what influences that you identify with, that’s who you’ll be.”

Students need support at school, beyond what teachers and counselors are able to handle. A student who has a close relationship with an adult at school (staff or volunteer) is less likely to be absent.

Do you want to be a mentor? I can help get you started. Let me know by leaving a comment, or by contacting me via email, Facebook, or Twitter.