Mentoring program helps build ‘strong children’

Published 8:30 am Friday, January 27, 2012

About a year ago, during a meeting with Alesia Brinson, she told me that one of her favorite quotes, and words to live by, was from Frederick Douglass, the 19th century abolitionist: “It is far easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

I thought about that quote as Brinson and the great organization that in 2005 she founded, One on One Mentoring, celebrated National Mentoring Month with a luncheon last week. The luncheon honored and spotlighting the work that Brinson and the numerous volunteers do with children in our school system.

While a much-overused cliché, our youth are very much our future and I believe strongly in our responsibility to give them every opportunity to succeed. While parental responsibility is forefront in creating and providing such opportunities, in some instances, just a little extra encouragement from a teacher, a coach, a mentor, or simply a stranger goes a long way.

Email newsletter signup

I have great admiration for the work done by Alesia and everyone involved in One on One mentoring as well as for the Decatur County school system for allowing such a program. While Dr. Fred Rayfield, school superintendent, was not in his current position when the program was established, he has allowed the program to continue at both Hutto Middle School and Bainbridge Middle School and those children in the program are better off because of it.

And, from the outset, Dr. Marvin Thomas, principal at Bainbridge Middle School, was a major factor in making the program successful. As the principal at Hutto Middle School when the program was established, Thomas shared Brinson’s vision and saw the need for that “little extra” for many of our students.

During that meeting with Brinson about a year ago, she told me that, “in that middle-school age group, so many things happen during those years in a child’s life. If you just have someone there to coach you through, walk you through, and spend a little time, kids can make it.”

Like Rayfield mentioned while speaking at the luncheon, in many cases, the conversation provided by these mentors is the only positive communication some of these children have, the only communication that focuses on their welfare.

Brinson’s children, with her husband Eddie, have long since left her nest and are college graduates. However, the fact that Brinson has no children in the school system does not keep her from realizing the importance of this program.

She truly understands that “it is far easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And because of that realization, Bainbridge and Decatur County will be a better place to live and raise a family.

Jeff Findley is the publisher of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at