From Patrick Cannon, Charlotte City Councilman:
Mentoring changes lives. Many years ago, a mother found herself single with a young son. Although she provided all she could, she knew there was an empty space that needed to be filled. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, her son was matched with two mentors who helped to shape his future. While he experienced many things, such as whitewater rafting and playing basketball, nothing was more important to this boy than simply spending quality time with his mentors. They took an interest in his school work and provided assistance and guidance.
Because of a mothers keen sense of the need for a male role model, her son went from mentee to Mayor Pro Tem for the city of Charlotte. That mentee was me.
There are thousands of children in greater Charlotte, especially boys like me, who need caring adult role models in their lives. According to statistics from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, when children have positive influences, such as mentors, they are 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school, 84 percent more likely to improve their academic performance, and 85 percent more likely to avoid risky behaviors such as substance abuse.
The effect of mentoring is long-term. Mentors often help with setting career goals, exploring higher education options, and understanding the world of work. These positive outcomes have caught the attention of many high-profile organizations in the region. Last fall, United Way of Central Carolinas launched Project 1,000, an initiative to recruit 1,000 readers, tutors and mentors to serve at-risk students in their funded programs. The Mayors Mentoring Alliance, which came into fruition under then-Mayor Pat McCrory, brother of my mentor Phil McCrory, regularly offers free training programs to develop the necessary skills to build an effective mentoring relationship.
The need for reliable mentors is great. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte have waiting lists for adult male mentors. Mentors make an impact across our nation. President Obama has recognized January as National Mentoring Month 2013. In his presidential proclamation, he noted, Mentors know that helping a child unlock their full potential begins with care, guidance, and support.
National Mentoring Month is a time to recognize the thousands of volunteers in our community who are committed to helping children have better futures.