February 26, 2008

Mentoring Heroes and A Give-Away

Kilbarchan is the oldest continuously-operated residential facility for children in the United States, and is currently managed by YCS, Youth Consultation Service. It was established as an orphanage in 1831 and currently serves boys ages 12 to 17 years old, who are unable to live in their natural or foster homes.

A group of men in that community decided to become man-makers for the lost boys at Kilbarchan. I consider these men as some of the heroes doing this important work and I want to share their story. The following is from Greg Zimmer who is speaking for the group:

Six years ago, myself and a group of men from the Mankind Project got together to do some mission work at Kilbarchan, a local home for "troubled" young men ranging in age from 12-17. Most of the boys had been victims of some form of neglect or abuse and often were under rather heavy doses of medication.

The idea we had was to visit the boys monthly, and to be positive male role models for them. We usually brought a "program" or activity session of some kind. These included activities like picnic table building, basketball clinics, (legal) graffiti lessons, poetry night, astronomy night, magic shows, and much more.

The sessions were greatly enjoyed by the boys, but the most obvious result of the visits was how the boys looked forward to seeing the men. After one of our early meetings in which we all had a great time, one of the boys asked the men, “What took you guys so long to get here?” In six years, we’ve only missed one month and that was simply due to a scheduling conflict. The MKP men have become one of the most stable and dependable parts of the boys lives.

From the men's side, we often hear comments like, "nothing I've ever done has given me more of a feeling of accomplishment than when we bring some fun into these kid's lives…" or "this is what MKP mission work is really about."

In order to make it possible for other groups of men to create similar programs, I’ve put together a "template" that shows what we learned in our years at Kilbarchan and how we grew the program into its current form. I’d be happy to share that template if you contact me at the phone number or email below. We would welcome the opportunity to help anyone set up a similar program in their community.

Greg Zimmer – 973.427.8000 – email: zimmerind@aol.com

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