This month for our “Be the Change Spotlight” I’d like to introduce you to Son of a Saint, an organization committed to inspiring mentorship and transforming the lives of fatherless boys in New Orleans.
How Son of a Saint got started
Son of a Saint was founded in 2011, by Sonny Lee, after his own father (former Saint, Bivian Lee) passed away at the age of 36 from a heart attack. Being familiar with the struggles a fatherless young boy, Sonny created Son of a Saint to provide mentorship, emotional support, development of life skills, exposure to constructive experiences and positive peer-to-peer relationships to fatherless boys in the Greater New Orleans area.
What Son of a Saint does
Each year Son of a Saint selects a group of boys ages 10-12 to join the existing kids in their program. The boys must be fatherless as a result of death or incarceration. Each boy remains an official Son of a Saint mentee until he is 21, but the connections continue further as the organization continues to advise and support the mentee in the years that follow. The goal of Son of a Saint is to graduate self-sufficient, independent thinkers who are leaders and give back to their community.
The boys who enter the program are often boys in crisis. Son of a Saint employs a holistic approach, using a network of volunteers and partner agencies that enable them to address each boy’s individual needs. They employ a mental health specialist to provide evaluations and regular ongoing counseling for the boys. The mentees are given positive experiences such as horseback riding, fishing, yoga, music, chess, the arts and more. Every boy participates in at least one of these activities weekly. Mentors also support and encourage the boys in their extracurricular activities by attending games.
Regular daylong mentorship sessions are designed to aid in the boys’ academic, personal and overall development. Son of a Saint also hosts an average of 20 group mentorship sessions per month covering topics such as etiquette, time management, decision-making, critical thinking, anger management, moral reasoning, life skills, work ethic, leadership, civic responsibility, teamwork and integrity. Mentees and mentors also frequent outings, such as sporting events, educational trips, movies, dining, parades and volunteer activities.
Half of the boys are also paired with a dedicated mentor to facilitate an ongoing, one-on-one mentoring relationship. The organization also offers each mentee post-secondary planning support. A coach works one-on-one with the boys to help them in identifying interests and goals, forming college and career plans, and connecting them with internship or job-shadowing experiences, along with relevant co-curricular activities to prepare them for life after high school. The organization also pairs boys in need of educational support with qualified tutors. Additionally, Son of a Saint works to provide middle school and high school scholarships allowing boys to attend tuition-based schools in the New Orleans area.
Mentees must maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA, complete eight hours of community service each month and maintain good conduct at home, school and within the Son of a Saint organization.
Son of a Saint equips boys with the tools they need to become productive men by providing them with hope, vision, opportunity, a secure and consistent environment and a mentor to serve as a good example.
The why behind Son of a Saint
Son of a Saint exists because there is a need in the lives of young boys that cannot be ignored. Life for boys who lose their fathers is an uphill battle involving challenges related to self-confidence, anger and feelings of abandonment. Left unaddressed, these challenges too often manifest in unhealthy behaviors during the early teenage years through young adulthood. Son of a Saint is a necessary intervention at a delicate time – a wellspring of positive influence when it’s needed most.
How you can support Son of a Saint
As you can see, Son of a Saint is bringing about positive change in New Orleans by pouring into the next generation. As the organization says, “If you love New Orleans, invest in its future.” You can invest in the future of New Orleans by making a financial donation to Son of a Saint here to help support the efforts of this great organization.
If you’re interested in nominating an organization to be featured in our New Orleans Be the Change Spotlight, please email us at [email protected].