Photo: Bill West, president of Rocky Mountain Conference UM Men, enjoys watching little brother AJ offer his head to a snake at a Denver museum.
United Methodist Men formed a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) to provide mentors for children of incarcerated parents. The program, called, Amachi, has been by introduced by the Commission on UM Men into 17areas, including the Denver metropolitan area.
“Amachi” is a Nigerian Ibo word that means “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.”
Bill West, president of Rocky Mountain Conference UM Men and conference Amachi coordinator, describes his experiences as a mentor.
DENVER, Colo.––In September 2011, I agreed to temporarily fill the position of coordinator of the Amachi Mentoring Program for Rocky Mountain Conference.
I decided to become a mentor as a way to help change a trend in which some 70 percent of children of incarcerated parents also become incarcerated.
I also thought that becoming a big brother would also help me explain the relationship to potential mentors.
If I would be talking the talk then I felt I should also be walking the walk.
So on Nov. 16, 2011, I applied to become a mentor. The screening and training period under the auspices of BBBS took approximately two months.
I was matched with a little brother on Jan. 10, 2012 when a BBBS staff member introduced me to AJ and his family.
Five days later, I attended one of AJ’s basketball games. This was a good start as AJ was happy to see me support his team
AJ is bright nine-year old; he excels in school studies, and has a supportive family. I quickly learned that my first challenge would be to help AJ develop goals for his future. To work on this challenge I knew I had to gain AJ’s respect and confidence.
Starting on Jan. 19, 2012, AJ and I went on two-hour outings once a week to various events and places. I always show up on time to show AJ that he can depend on me to be there for him I say I will.
BBBS provides frequent suggestions and free tickets for outings and monitors progress of the relationship at least monthly. BBBS also puts on monthly training sessions to help mentors and mentees with their relationships.
During the first six months, I’ve learned a lot about AJ and what inspires and motivates him, and I hope AJ has learned a lot about what I’m trying to accomplish.
Our relationship is strong and AJ looks forward to our outings each week.
During the next six months I plan to introduce him to my family and friends as other role models.
This has been a rewarding experience for both AJ and me.