Standing strong for children in need

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Aaron Thomas grew up in a house full of women.

Winston Butler (second from right), the president of 100 Black Men of Augusta, stands alongside Calvin Thomas (from left), who is a mentor to Aaron Thomas, 17; and Bryce Adair, 12, who is mentored by Rufus Gates.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Winston Butler (second from right), the president of 100 Black Men of Augusta, stands alongside Calvin Thomas (from left), who is a mentor to Aaron Thomas, 17; and Bryce Adair, 12, who is mentored by Rufus Gates.

At 15, he had no clue about approaching girls or parallel parking.

His mentor, Calvin Thomas, changed all that two years ago.

"Before I had a mentor, I don't think I realized how much I was missing out on," Aaron said. "He gives me advice when we ride around, and he taught me how to perfect parallel parking."

The A.R. Johnson Health, Science and Engineering Magnet High School senior is one of 40 young black men mentored through 100 Black Men of Augusta.

Mr. Thomas said serving as a male role model is something he's proud to do for Aaron, but he said he wishes his organizations and others could reach more.

"We just need men to be men. They don't have to be doctors or lawyers," he said. "All types of young people need mentors, not just troubled ones."

Another group, Communities in Schools of Augusta-Richmond County, tries to reach those who might not have an outlet at home, Director Mary Crawford said. About 175 pupils from pre-K through 12th grade take part in the program.

"Our youth definitely need someone in their lives to assist in making the right decisions," Ms. Crawford said. "They do not have that one-on-one time. Parents are pretty much working a majority of the time."

More than 75 percent of her pupils come from a single-parent home, Ms. Crawford said.

The need for adult role models outside of the family continues to grow, said Winston Butler, the president of 100 Black Men of Augusta. Problems in the education system and other out-of-class distractions make mentorship programs essential.

"They can help close the gap in education that exists for African-Americans and other racial groups," Mr. Butler said. "Considering the dropout rate and the educational system, we need mentors."

Venus Cain, a mentor and Richmond County school board member, said stressing the need for mentors might fall on deaf ears for some.

"I think we've become a society that's so complacent," she said. "It's like, 'It's not my child, so it's not my issue. I'm not going to deal with it.' "

She began mentoring three young people last year, one of whom was determined to drop out of high school, she said. Tough love and positive reinforcement has helped her turn them around.

Despite their various backgrounds, their needs are generally the same, she said.

"They're not looking for money. They're just looking for your time and to know you love them," Ms. Cain said. "You'd be surprised how far a hug goes."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

BECOMING A MENTOR

For more information on mentoring with 100 Black Men of Augusta, contact Winston Butler at (706) 364-9007.

For more information on mentoring with Communities in Schools of Augusta-Richmond County, contact Mary Crawford at (706) 774-6600.

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cosleia
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cosleia 01/13/08 - 01:44 am
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So not a single woman in the

So not a single woman in the whole house could parallel park? Sad. Then again, it's not needed much around here, I guess...

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/13/08 - 06:59 am
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100 Black Men is one of the

100 Black Men is one of the best organizations in the country. Their goal and message is exactly what every young man needs to know. This article refers to this as a racial problem, but all children need positive input from both men and women. Our government subsidy programs have targeted Black people and have created a shortage of men in the family, but that isn't the only place they're needed. The mentoring program is much needed in the current state of our society.

justus4
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justus4 01/13/08 - 09:40 am
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The article is a positive
Unpublished

The article is a positive one, with the idea that these men are at risk in our country. It refers to a lack of "male role models" in their lives and coming from single-parent homes. Butler needs to have this program expanded and supported with federal grants. Thats the purpose of a government; to prepare the next generation for leadership and continue to improve the society. How we do it is debatable, but it must be done. This is an excellent program thats needs to be incorporated into middle school classes, and those mentors need to be paid.

nextstep
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nextstep 01/13/08 - 10:19 am
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All we need is for a few more

All we need is for a few more strong men to step up to the plate and help out! What a difference it would make in our community if we all did our part. All children are born with hopes and dreams, many children want to be successful but lack the support they need. Thanks to Ms. Cain and 100 Black men for doing their part! Now can the rest of the community do their part? Also thanks for printing something positive in the paper it was a treat to read soimething positive in the paper about our children.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/13/08 - 10:59 am
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No justus4, that would be the

No justus4, that would be the job of a nanny government, which is what precipitated the problem to begin with. It is the governments job to get out of the way and stop replacing the man in the family with a check.

tdp
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tdp 01/13/08 - 11:46 am
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I agree with patriciathomas.

I agree with patriciathomas. It is not the government's responsibility to take care of a child's emotional, social, or financial needs; that is the responsibility of the child's family. The men who are fathering these children need to step up and take care of their responsibility. Also, women out there need to stop getting pregnant by these deadbeats. I take care of my child's needs. Why should my tax dollars be used to take care of a child that isn't even mine? This really is a no-brainer. BIRTH CONTROL, PEOPLE! Stop having kids and then expecting the government to fork over money every month to support it!

doitrealbig
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doitrealbig 01/13/08 - 12:22 pm
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read please! the statement

read please! the statement said support from government not government responsibilty. in other words more money to help with programs such as listed not that we want the government to give hand outs. help not handouts... why don't you negative responders try helping with postive contributions instead of the crap you typed! again try being part of the solution and not the problem

MartinezWest Augusta
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MartinezWest Augusta 01/13/08 - 04:10 pm
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Thats what happens when

Thats what happens when welfare says you can't have a man in the house. 35% of black kids have both parents. Compared to 61% of white kids who have both parents. If we stop locking up poor black men for drug charges. While letting rich white kids get probation or community service for the same drug charges. And stop giving black men 35 to 40 years for selling crack. And then give white men 2 years in prison or 20 months in jail or community service. Alot could change overnight. When white dad gets probation and gets to turn his life around. And be with his family. And the black dad gets 40 years in prison. And cant turn his life around. And his kids are now stuck with a single mother. That is a big problem

KSL
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KSL 01/14/08 - 02:47 am
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jonneee, your post makes the

jonneee, your post makes the assumption that the black fathers are locked up in jail and the white ones are not. Where do you get your information from? If they are locked up in jail, why do the mothers keep having more children?

ShakingMyHeadInShame
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ShakingMyHeadInShame 01/14/08 - 01:23 pm
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What a wonderful reminder of

What a wonderful reminder of why my Black MAN, with emphasis on MAN, is so precious! That's why I love MINE so much!

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