Be the change you want to see: Volunteer with Son of a Saint

By Driftwood Staff

 

This week marked the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. King famously said “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

 

As the celebration of his life is deemed a “National Day of Service,” across our country, citizens commemorated the occasion by volunteering for various causes. New Orleans is no exception to this rule. And the passing of the holiday is no reason to stop serving others. 

 

You may have heard of the hometown motto: “Invest in New Orleans’ future.” In a city that is l

iterally built upon foundations of the past with a tourism industry that flourishes no doubt because of it, many residents forget that the future of the city matters just as much. Enter the Son of a Saint organization.

 

Founded by Bivian “Sonny” Lee, III in 2011, the foundation was started to honor Lee’s late father, Bivian Lee, Jr., who was an NFL defensive back for the Saints from 1971 to 1975.  He died tragically at 36 and left behind a wife, son, and young daughter. (You may recognize Lee’s daughter, Tamica Lee, from WGNO and the popular Bravo series “Southern Charm: New Orleans.”

 

Sonny’s organization focuses on at-risk fatherless boys in the New Orleans area. Starting with boys 10-12 whose fathers are deceased or incarcerated, the young men are paired with mentors until the age of 21 years old and provided with guidance, encouragement, and access to mental health services to help them cope. 

 

According to the nonprofit’s website, “Regular daylong mentorship sessions are designed to aid in our boys’ academic, personal and overall development. We host 20 group mentorship sessions per month, on average, covering topics such as etiquette, time management, decision-making, critical thinking, anger management, moral reasoning, life skills, work ethic, leadership, civic responsibility, teamwork and integrity. Kids and mentors also frequent outings, such as sporting events, educational trips, movies, dining, parades and volunteer activities. Half of our boys are also paired with a dedicated mentor to facilitate an ongoing, one-on-one mentoring relationship.” 

 

In addition to providing meaningful experiences, altruism proves to be great for one’s mental health. Melanie Block, a technology professional who has volunteered in several major U.S. cities and in South Africa, says she feels rewarded serving those who may be underserved. “I love to provide hospitality to guests at our soup kitchens. I enjoy being able to bring them dinner, asking them how their day was, and generally serving those that usually aren’t on the receiving end of service,” she states. 

 

For those interested in participating in the program as a mentor and/or learning more about other volunteer opportunities, there will be a free volunteer mixer tonight, Thursday, January 23 at Cellar Door at 6 p.m. Registration in advance is required and can be completed at https://bit.ly/3au6twE. For more information about the program, visit http://sonofasaint.org/. Other volunteer opportunities in the area can be found via volunteermatch.org. 

President Lyndon Johnson shakes hands with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., after handing him one of the pens used in signing the Civil Rights Act of July 2, 1964 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection