Deciding that "young children need good male role models," 18-year-old Colbert Williams of Benton Harbor, MI has committed much of time to making sure that he is one of them. Through community service, Colbert is setting an example for his three-year-old son, whom he has custody of, and for other youth to act responsibly and compassionately within their lives and towards their community.
For the past two years, Colbert has volunteered at the LINK Crisis Intervention Center in St. Joseph, MI. He is a member of their Peer Counseling Team, where he acts as a peer-to-peer advisor. He underwent two hours of training per week for eight weeks in order to become an advisor. He then met with students every two weeks to counsel them on various issues of their concern. He also serves on the LINK financial board and on its junior board of directors, which both require attendance to monthly meetings.
Colbert also volunteers his time in other ways. Since September 1997, he has worked on a newsletter written by teens for teens. The newsletter deals with current social problems that teens may encounter, such as sex, drugs and peer-pressure. He also travels to local high school parenting classes and teen groups, to talk about his experience as a teen farther. He stresses prevention and responsibility at these talks.
Throughout his high school years, Colbert has been a tutor for the Drop/Stop Tutoring Program at Lake Michigan Catholic High School. This program is a dropout prevention effort that involves working with students who are at-risk and/or need assistance with some of their class work. He tutors daily for about an hour.
Colbert has also volunteered with a Kindergarten class at Fair Plain Elementary School in Benton Harbor, MI. He spent three days a week after the completion of his regular school day helping 23 kindergarten students with reading and teacher directed activities.
Colbert's list of volunteer experiences won him the 1998 Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award, presented by the Southwestern Michigan Volunteer Center at its National Volunteer Week Kick-off on April 17, 1998.
Colbert was raised in a dysfunctional family, and has lived with his guardian for the past four years. Despite the obstacles he has faced, he has maintained a positive attitude and has set assertive goals for himself and his son.
COPS FOR KIDS
COPS FOR KIDS is a program offered by Big Brothers/Big Sisters and is a component of Youth Focus, Inc., a United Way Agency, serving the needs of youth and families in Greensboro, NC. Based on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program model, children are matched with adult volunteers. All volunteers in the COPS FOR KIDS program are employed with law enforcement in some capacity.
COPS FOR KIDS volunteers commit to spend quality time with at-risk children. They serve as positive role model and help to build a better relationship between law enforcement and youth. The volunteers of COPS FOR KIDS commit to be matched one-on-one with at-risk youth from the Greensboro, NC community. The volunteers help to eliminate the negative perceptions that many children have about law enforcement and this develops a greater appreciation for those who protect and serve the community. The children learn to view their volunteers as trusted friends.
Each volunteer makes a one-year commitment to the program and agrees to spend two to four hours each week with his or her young friend. Together they work on goals and life skills designed to improve the youth's self-esteem.
Special events are scheduled throughout the year to bring the group together for support and fellowship such as the annual Bowl for Kids Sake bowl-a-thon and a COPS FOR KIDS night at various local athletic events.