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San Diego Mentoring Program Helps Empower Boys

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 8/19/2019 LAUREN CORONADO
a man standing on a beach © NBC 7

A local non-profit organization is empowering boys and inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM.

This Saturday the organization shot off home-made rockets on Fiesta Island; it’s a project they’ve been working toward all summer.

Joshua Okeke is starting middle school in two weeks and joined the Boys to Men program about three months ago. He says he wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

“I knew it’s like to help young boys with like father issues,” Okeke said.

Boys to Men Mentoring is a nonprofit organization that is committed to creating communities of dedicated men who encourage and empower fatherless boys, according to the group's website.

After getting to know the other boys and mentors in the program, Okeke says he feels like he’s part of a brotherhood.

“I feel like I can relate to so many people here and they don’t judge. I like being able to express any bad things going on in school, and just being able to know someone’s there,” Okeke explained.

Brian Mulvaney has been a mentor with Boys to Men for almost six years and says events like "Rocketing Back to School" help fulfill the program’s mission.

“We’re really providing good. These boys don’t have to show up. They show up because they want to and they chose to. That’s how life works and that’s how we teach them -- that life is full of choices and we’re showing them, hopefully, how to be good individuals and also promoting STEM,” Mulvaney said.

He says the majority of the boys in the program don’t have a supportive male figure in their lives or are going through hardships, so every week mentors show up to local schools and community centers to listen, encourage and empower future leaders.

“We start with these boys in 6th grade and by 8th grade, we need to help them figure out what they want to become,” said Mulvaney.

Okeke says he’s hoping to give back to the program by becoming a mentor one day.

“This is really helpful for me and maybe it’ll be helpful for someone my age. I just want to help people,” said Okeke.

The program serves about 800 young boys across San Diego County. Program organizers say they’re looking for more volunteers and mentors. Those interested in joining the program can find more information on their website.

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