HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – January is National Mentoring Month, a time to highlight local mentoring programs. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tennessee Valley creates mentor-mentee relationships between local kids and leaders in the community.
The program’s mission is to inspire higher aspirations, greater confidence, better relationships, and educational success.
“The kid doesn’t have to be from a certain neighborhood or from a certain background,” said David Jones, a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Just a kid who needs someone in their life to give them some quality time and some type of mentoring.”
Jones joined Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor five years ago. He works with Huntsville Police, his department partnered with the program during a “Bigs in Blue” campaign. David and his little, Branden Parks, were paired up during that time. They said, through the years and everything they’ve done together, there have been a lot of opportunities for learning experiences.
“Every time we hang out we have a lesson,” Parks said. “It usually depends on what we talk about, so it’s really different every day. One of the main lessons I remember is being respectful.”
Jones and Parks have maintained a mentorship over the past five years. Jones recalled teaching Parks how to ride a bike in Big Spring Park. Now, Parks is 15, with a learner’s permit, and Jones is teaching him to drive.
📲 Get breaking news, traffic and weather alerts directly to your smartphone. Download the News 19 App
Jones said he shares advice with Parks, and he said while littles can learn a lot from their bigs, he has also learned a lesson from Parks: how important it is to listening is to communication.
“Treat people how you want to be treated,” Jones said. “Treat people right and things will go well for you in your life. That’s the number one thing. I apply the same thing to living my life. Just be a good human being. That’s what I want for him.”
Parks said he hopes others see his involvement in the program and are encouraged to join.
“I see how it can help with the community and help further kids and help them grow,” Parks said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tennessee Valley is looking for mentors to join the program.
“It doesn’t require a lot of time or a lot of money,” Jones said. “It just requires you to have a heart.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters says children who are matched with a mentor through their program are more likely to graduate high school and less likely to be involved in juvenile crime.