June 20, 2010. Much of the day was spent thinking about important men in my life and in the life of my daughter, Bethany—mainly my father and my brother. Dad passed in 1999, far too young, but we were truly lucky to have him for as long as we did. This year my brother Mark’s birthday also fell on Father’s Day. Mark looks like Dad, shares his work ethic and sense of responsibility, and no one loves to have fun with friends and family more than these two. My daughter has had tremendous role models in her uncle and grandfather. The adoration among them was/is mutual.
While I searched for the comfort of my father’s voice in the recesses of my memory on Father’s Day, I found my mind wandering off to the many children not as lucky as my daughter and me. Research has shown that children without a father figure or good male role model are much more likely to drop out of school, to become teenage parents themselves, or to spend time in prison. Unfortunately there are many children who need caring men in their lives, but there are few to be found.
There are several organizations in the Lowcountry that attempt to assist in providing mentoring services—The Boys and Girls Clubs, and Strive to Excel among them. Several churches may also be working to provide such support. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough mentors in general, and the critically important male mentor is in very short supply. If you are a man who is willing to learn how to be a friend to a young person who truly needs one, or if you know of such a man, please call one of these numbers:
- IMPACT Program through the Beaufort County School District. Call Buck Edwards at 843-681-7151.
- Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry. Call Jan Gourley at 843-575-5430.
- Strive to Excel. Call Tim Singleton at 843-290-6344 or check www.strive2excel.org.
If you know of other mentoring programs in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton or Colleton Counties, please let me know, so that we can pass the word about them as well. Let’s not let another year go by without trying to find a wonderful male role model for each of the children in the Lowcountry who needs one. Every child matters; every mentor matters; every day matters.
Denise K. Spencer