Mentor's passion fills a need
- Mentor's passion fills a need
Southfield man finds reward making a difference in young men's lives
July 1, 2007
BY MELANIE D. SCOTT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The thought of becoming a mentor never really crossed Randy Walker's mind
until he began to feel pressure from his coworkers to get involved.
"I started through an organization called 100 Black Men," which works with
Big Brothers Big Sisters. "They had a call for mentors. They were trying to
match 100 black youth with 100 black men," said Walker, a Southfield
resident. "I was not sure about doing it, but when I got there it was clear
to me there was a need."
Since 1997, Walker has been a mentor to Kevin Bullock of Detroit, who is now
18 and attends Oakland Community College. Bullock was 9 when he met Walker.
"He has been the father figure I've never had," Bullock said. "He's exposed
me to a lot of things I might not have experienced."
Walker, who is vice president of health management services for Health
Alliance Plan of Michigan, said he knew it was the right time for him to get
"I was doing well with my career and I was at a good place in my family, so
it was a good time to give back to others," said Walker, 47. He has two
sons, Randy Jr., 18, and Ryan, 15, with his wife, Sheron.
"I think it has become a passion of mine to make a difference in the lives
of youth and help young men," he said.
After mentoring Bullock for a few years, Walker also began mentoring
18-year-old Arbie Mosley, who recently completed his freshman year at Howard
University in Washington, D.C. Mosley was 12 when he met Walker.
In 2006, Walker was recognized for his mentoring efforts with Bullock and
Mosley by Gov. Jennifer Granholm during the Governor's Service Awards
ceremony, which honors volunteers from around the state for their work in
Walker received the Outstanding Mentor Award last year and was featured in a
TV special earlier this year. Called "Hands On Michigan," it aired on
Comcast local origination stations in May.
"The show featured stories about the people who won Governor's Service
Awards last year. We hope to show people the importance of volunteering so
they will get involved," said Jimmy Rhoades of Nice Work Productions, who
produced the show. "The show will air statewide and will be available on
demand for Comcast customers."
For Walker, being a mentor has become a way of life.
"I have learned a lot more about young people," Walker said. "I just feel
rewarded. Kevin and Arbie are fine young men and watching Arbie go off to
college and just knowing I made a difference in their lives is good."
Walker found that spending time with Bullock and Mosley was the best way to
mentor the boys.
Inviting them over for family dinners and taking them go-karting, fishing,
to the movies, to sporting events and to church helped the boys learn from
"There are a lot of myths out there about mentoring. Some think it's
extremely time-consuming and it's not. Some think you are replacing a family
member and you are not. Clarifying those myths might help people volunteer
more," Walker said.
"I would tell someone considering mentoring to look into it for six months
and research it by talking to people to get a feel for how rewarding it is."
With gaps in the structure of many families, Walker said, he believes the
value of mentoring surpasses any of the perceived negatives.
"I've seen the success in Kevin and Arbie," Walker said. "The purpose of
doing this is to make a difference in someone's life and encourage them."
In addition to Walker's own positive experience, he credits his mentoring
with teaching his sons the importance of giving back.
"I think my kids have learned the importance of sharing with others," Walker
said. "They have learned that when they do things for others they gain
For information about 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, call 866-670-4110 or
go to www.100blackmendetroit.org. Contact MELANIE D. SCOTT at 248-351-3681
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