Men serving as mentors for students at West Jasper

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 3/12/16

Young boys at West Jasper Elementary School are receiving guidance from a group of men every week who are filling a void some boys have — the lack of a father figure.

The “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” program was started by a group of black …

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Men serving as mentors for students at West Jasper

Posted

Young boys at West Jasper Elementary School are receiving guidance from a group of men every week who are filling a void some boys have — the lack of a father figure.

The “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” program was started by a group of black men who are alumni of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. The program serves to mentor young children — particularly boys — who do not have a stable male figure in their lives.

Marius Beckham is a coordinator for the program, and he visits West Jasper every Wednesday to work with 5th grade students. He says it’s an important age group to target, since the children will soon make the transition to middle school.

“We try to get to the root of the problem, because there’s a reason why a child is acting out. Maybe it’s an issue at home or maybe they’re just having a bad day. Children do have bad days, just like adults,” Beckham said. “It’s our job to actually intercede and assist the teachers here at West Jasper Elementary School in those areas.”

Beckham says around 12 to 15 men come to the school on various days each month. During their visits, the men talk with the kids, play with them during gym class, enjoy lunchtime with them and work as aides when students need extra assistance during class.

For many of the boys at West Jasper, they are raised in a single parent home, and Beckham said the program is especially beneficial to those children.

“I’m a product of a single parent home. Someone was there for me. My granddad stepped in and filled in that void,” Beckham said. “I find it an obligation to actually fill in where there’s a lack. ... There’s nothing wrong with the boys being around mama, but boys need to be around men. We actually come here and conduct ourselves as men, so therefore, they can actually see the men that we are.”

Beckham added that he hopes the program can soon partner with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., where a group of black women could come to West Jasper and serve as mentors for girls.

As men, Beckham said it’s difficult for the “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” group to relate to what young girls are going through, and he hopes for the girls to soon have female role models paying visits to the school.

He said there’s many moments he’s shared with the children at West Jasper, but, as the father of four boys, his greatest joy comes from seeing children receive a heartfelt message and respond with happiness.

“To hear a man say ‘I love you,’ just being able to see a child smile because a man or male figure said I love you and actually mean it, that stands out the most to me,” Beckham said.

Beckham says any man who wishes to become a part of the “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” program should call West Jasper School or visit the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. website for information on membership.

The fraternity’s motto, Culture For Service and Service For Humanity, is a testament to the purpose of the “Brother’s Keeper” program.