CROSSROADS volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of at-risk youth in our community. By meeting these young people at the crossroads of some of the greatest challenges in their lives, our mentors are encouraging youth to make better, safer decisions that prevent their future involvement with the juvenile justice system. At CROSSROADS we truly believe in making a difference in the leaders of tomorrow.
Mentor ONE child … Change TWO lives!
"My very first assignment was a Hispanic kid, Eric. I had specifically asked to be assigned with black kids because I felt I could relate a lot easier. After meeting Eric, for the very first time, there was no way I could not continue mentoring him. He was very likeable, polite, mature and appreciative for my volunteerism. He told me all about his family. He was being raised by a step father, had two much younger step siblings and his mother was in prison. I had never met anyone who's mother was in prison. It stunned me and made me think about how difficult it would be for any child who's mother was incarcerated. In fact several other of his family members were incarcerated. It was a pattern being set that I was determined to try to make a difference with Eric. I helped him with his school work. I encouraged him to dream big. I downloaded information that allowed him to do virtual traveling around the world. I wanted to expose him to a much bigger world. He wanted to be an electrician, I suggested an electrical engineer to open doors for even more opportunities. I brought him home cooked meals at every visit. I was trying to be a mother like figure in his life. He told me he really missed a rice-milk that his mother always served his family. I searched several grocery stores to find that rice milk and I finally found it in the downtown Houston area. I don't know who was happier, him or me."
"When I first met JC, I had no idea what I was about to encounter. I was soon introduced to this tall, slim young man with a polite demeanor and bright smile. I was relieved by his immediate acceptance of me. The first meeting was get-acquainted small talk and refreshing to see how he welcomed my involvement in his life. It was my second visit that I inquired about his family life, specifically about the passing of both of his parents. When he informed me of the tragic and devastating events surrounding their deaths that occurred on the same day, I was completely overwhelmed.
After a couple of weeks he was released to go home. Within a week of being home, JC began to skip classes and eventually school altogether. He was unhappy about being below grade level and simply wanted his G.E.D. He was quickly falling into an attitude of “why bother, life doesn’t have much for me anyway.” Eventually he would be detained again for graffiti and drug possession and the gravity of his situation began to sink in this time. When he appeared in front of the judge, he was very remorseful and accepted the reality of his situation. Since that time, his attitude and outlook on life has improved dramatically. He has a talent for art and now even speaks of going to college.
Our relationship has grown where he is comfortable to not only confide in me, but also be truthful and honest. I encourage him to keep a daily journal about weekly events, feelings and emotions. In one of his entries he acknowledged how his anger and frustration over his parents’ death led to his rebellion against his caretakers and school. He expresses sincere appreciation of my efforts and looks forward to my weekly visits. He has expressed that he now realizes how fortunate he is to have a support system of his family and me, his mentor. He is really looking forward to being permanently released now that he feels like he has something to live for as well as being a role model for some of his younger relatives. I feel blessed that he has allowed me into his life and I am excited about his future."
David was referred to CROSSROADS by a probation officer at the Harris County Youth Village in Seabrook, TX. He had no goals or ambitions besides being a rapper. He lacked motivation and self-esteem. The probation officer felt he would benefit greatly from a positive adult in his life. David wasn’t excited, at first, about getting a mentor, yet said he was willing to give the program a try. This sixteen-year-old kid was assigned to a 66 year-old female volunteer. Why?
David’s mother abandoned him and his family when he was four. When he was fourteen his father left, too. At the innocent age of fourteen David was left in a cold, unloving, uncaring world: alone. He was put in the custody of Child Protective Services and looking to belong to a family, he joined a gang. He was finally put on probation for carrying a weapon to school. This young man needed nurturing.
His CROSSROADS mentor saw something in him that many people had overlooked…his potential for success. She saw how intelligent, funny, compassionate, and incredible this young man was. She mentored with him at the Youth Village for 9 months.
With the encouragement of his mentor, this now seventeen-year-old kid has received his GED and has signed up for classes at Houston Community College. What does David want to be now? Not a rapper, but a drug and alcohol counselor. He wants to work with boys, who like himself have made bad decisions. He wants to give them hope, just as his most unlikely friend gave him hope.
Valentine’s Day poem from youth to her mentor
You helped me through my Problems
You helped me through my Past
But most of all You helped me
To help good feelings last
You got me through some real rough days
You brought real food to eat
You made it so, through every game,
I was never in defeat.
You helped me let things go
You helped me let things pass,
And you didn’t show your disappointment
When I gave some girls some "sass".
You changed my mind on many things
And I thank you in advance
You‘re my angel from up above
And I thank you for my chance.
"Let me first express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the existence of a program such as CROSSROADS. I can only hope that my thoughts and feelings, along with several others, will help deter you from alleviating the program. I strongly believe that this program is absolutely necessary for troubled juveniles. The paths that these youths followed to get them to the point of confinement, may have caused them to be alienated from family, friends and peers, or they may have gone in with none of the above. For most, having a mentor helps them to find comfort. They spend time with someone who does not judge, stereotype or belittle them. We, as mentors, are simply an ear to vent and a shoulder to cry on. Those 1-2 hours out of each day that we spend with them allows them to be free of any problems or frustrations that they have to deal with on a day to day basis. We play cards, dominoes, tell jokes, or participate in any acceptable activity that puts them at ease.
It gives me great pleasure to mentor these youths because I can relate to them. I, myself was a youth who was very rebellious with no respect for authority. Although I had a very loving mother, she was also very hard working, making it impossible for her to provide the guidance that I needed, when I needed it. I played by my own rules, and that’s the case with most of these juveniles. They have absent fathers and over worked mothers who can’t give them the attention that they need so they go in search of it in other places. They don’t always realize that negative behavior yields negative consequences, so that is where I come into place. I say and do all that I can to motivate them, to let them know the importance of education and family. Explain the negative effects of drugs, alcohol and violence. I share with them situations from my past that resulted from poor decision making. I encourage them to be the best that they can be. When I get a new youth, I ask them to start off with a list of goals, and each week that I visit with them, I have them add one more goal to the list. Fortunately, all of the youths that I have mentored stuck to their goals while at BBRC and promised to follow through on their goals upon release. They all completed the allotted time required and were released as scheduled.
Simply put, these youths just need an adult figure in their lives to show that they care and let them know that they are important. They need genuine support and guidance and this is definitely something that CROSSROADS provides them. If this program is taken away, some of these youths will have no one to turn to or confide in."
"Thank you so much for your time!"
Superbowl XXXVIII Houston's Positive Impact on CROSSROADS
Crossroad’s Youth from the Harris County Youth village were able to share in this excitement as they experienced history by working out and running practice drills in the Texans “bubble” training facility with some of the NFL players. The boys were treated with sports bags filled with football memorabilia. The NFL also provided football souvenirs that were distributed to youth at the Brown school.
NFL players also went to Burnett Bayland Home and visited with 71 boys who listened to motivational speeches, which were followed by photo opportunities and autographs. The NFL players that participated were, Chukie Nworkoria -Defensive End - Green Bay Packers, Roland Williams - Tight End -Tampa Bay Buckaneers, Zack Crocket - Running Back - Oakland Raiders, Jabar Gaffney -Wide Receiver - Texans, Chad Stanley - Wide Receiver - Texans, Josh McCown - Quarterback - Arizona Cardinals and Jonathan Wells - Running Back - Texans.
Below are excerpts taken from thank you letters written to CROSSROADS from the youth that attended:
“I also felt good because we got to have some kind of fun, instead of being in the Youth Village. We weren’t identified as bad juveniles, we were doing good”.
“It was a very positive experience, it gave me the chance to get out and look back on my old football days”.
“Meeting Warren Moon with his Houston Oilers jersey was so cool”.
“I really enjoyed the practice drills with the pro’s. Being able to do this made me feel like I was in my neighborhood playing the game I love”.