Photo:Officers of Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Denver area meet with United Methodist leaders. Top row (l-r): Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministries for the General Commission on United Methodist Men; Dave Stalls, president and chief executive of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado; the Rev. William Morris, pastor of Burns Memorial UMC in Aurora; and Bill West, president of Rocky Mountain Conference UM Men. Bottom row: (l-r) the Rev. John Thompson, pastor of Park Hill UMC in Denver; Jose Hernandez, BBBS recruitment specialist; Desiree Ott, BBBS customer relations specialist; and Sandy Kerr, BBBS vice president.
DENVER, Colo. –– Leaders of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference met Sept. 13 with leaders of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Colorado to match UM men as mentors of children of incarcerated parents.
Aimed at reducing the number of children who follow their parents to prison, the national BBBS organization formed “Amachi,” a program that has already matched 250 children with adult mentors.
“Amachi” is a Nigerian Ibo word that means “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.”
Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministries for the General Commission on United Methodist Men, is spearheading the Amachi effort for United Methodists. He has helped launch the effort in 17 annual conferences, and he coordinated the meeting at the Denver BBBS office with Bill West, president of Rocky Mountain Conference UM Men and Denver area pastors.
Dave Stalls, a former NFL football player and top staff executive of the Denver BBBS, said the Amachi motto is "People of Faith Mentoring Children of Promise."
“We achieved a consensus on the fundamentals of partnership operations,” said West. “We established Denver and Colorado Springs as the target area where an estimated 41,000 children of incarcerated parents now reside.”
“The conference will enlist local church support in recruiting and providing facilities to support mentoring activities,” said West. “BBBS agreed to make their resources available to screen mentors, arrange mentoring matchups and survey mentoring activities to achieve program objectives.”
Conference leaders and BBBS officials will meet weekly via teleconference to monitor partnership progress.
This group of young people represents the highest risk of youth in America. Without effective intervention these children are six times more likely to engage in negative behavior than kids not affected by incarceration.
“Our country and our conference area cannot stand by while this pattern continues,” said West. “We must do something to help our communities with this problem and Amachi is an excellent opportunity for people of faith to get involved.”
To intervene and assist these young people each mentor commits to spending at least one hour per week with one child engaging in a variety of positive activities.