by Dr. Gary R. Carlson
When looking back on our journey in life some things make us smile, cry, be angry, motivated, depressed, and sometimes just plain happy to be alive. During the years I have expressed the value of Mentors of Bethany in America and the volunteers and staff who devote time, money, and energy to fill the gaps some of our society has missed out on in their life journey. A small group of people had the idea of originating a nonprofit organization to approach societal challenges that had been haunting communities for decades. The numbers of people with addictions, incarcerations, homelessness, alcoholism, deadbeat fathers, dysfunctional families, poverty, high school dropouts, and a lack of faith. So many of the current tactics to meet the needs of these societal diseases were by enabling other poor behaviors or implementing punitive measures on the afflicted. It was evident and apparent our approaches were not working. Budgets for welfare and imprisonment were growing each year. Recidivism for people labeled into these categories would be taken out of the roles with success but only to return after a period when facing life skills challenges. As the originator of the nonprofit and the executive director, I am stepping down to focus on mentoring high school dropouts and will be turning over the operations and board relationships to the people in charge of the future of Mentors of Bethany in America. Over the past five years, the approach and coaching techniques used by the mentors have provided some astounding success which some would call miracles. Before I continue one step further you need to know the methodology, content, and relationships do not constitute punitive measures or empty handouts that only require participants to ask for more so they become relying on material items from the stipends given by the old systems.
The programs are implemented and thriving in open-door missions, jails, street schools, neighborhoods, and partners in serving these participants. Without question, this approach has found true longevity success even with some of the most hardcore participants. Each year more and more volunteers join the ranks to be a mentor. The target focus is to continue to offer enough mentors to curb the societal ills that have been so prevalent. Secondarily, it is with the donations coming from the public to organize, support, and expand the reach of Mentors of Bethany in America to others in our society. After reading just one of many testimonies experienced by our mentors I would hope you could find the means to donate to this change agent that is less costly than the jails, welfare, and justice system requirements of social work, visiting nurses, and probation officers, and court systems. By no means are we advocating the elimination of these roles but do understand the caseloads of these people are so high that cases become paperwork on someone’s desk. Mentorship is based on relationships that are sustained through a lifetime and has payback potential from the participant’s success in the future.https//mentorsofbethany.org
What you are about to read is a story of a young man who came to our program in 2019. We will just refer to him as Zach. Zach showed up on our doorstep from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Without too much detail, Zach was a troubled young man addicted to alcohol and drugs. By his addictions, he was an angry person. The mentor program discovered immediately how much potential this person had to offer. Here was a twenty-three-year-old who by all rights probably could have been induced into crime and the criminal court system. Not only has Zach thrived, but he still is in constant touch with his mentor. This relationship will be one for a lifetime. Please read Zach’s testimony to me in an email sent recently. After reading Zach’s testimony there will be a summary of his steps to peace and freedom in his life.
I apologize for the delay in getting back to you! I hope you had a great time in Arizona. I hope all is well with you, your family, and the rest of the men.
A little update on how life is going: I am currently living in Jacksonville, Florida for the summer. I am doing a three-month internship with a general contractor called Archer Western. I am on a heavy civil interstate/bridge project that is right above 200 million. The company was voted 2nd best heavy civil company in a popular engineering poll in 2021. In the middle of August, I will be heading back to Phoenix to start classes back up at ASU. I’m currently sitting with a 3.95 GPA. I ended up getting a high B in an online stats class last semester, I was extremely close to getting an A… I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for that one. I have 2 years left until I graduate from ASU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management and Technology. I just got the news that I received two 4,000-dollar academic scholarships from ASU for my grades that I can use this year and next year. So, 4,000 each year. I am extremely grateful for that because college is not cheap as you all know! I am attending a church called “Living Word Bible Church” back in Mesa, it’s a great church! I actually really enjoy going there every Sunday. If you get the chance, look them up on YouTube. The two brothers that are the pastors have a daily bible study on YouTube that is supposed to be the number one on YouTube in the world. I am not certain where I want to go next after I graduate, it all depends on the opportunities that God presents in my way at that point in my life. All I know is that they will be great, and I will feel blessed. My family is doing well. My Dad asks every now and again if I still keep in touch with you. Other than that, life is going very well! Make sure you tell Eric I say hello and that I hope everything is well with him and his business! Also, tell all the men I say hello and that I hope all is well on their end! I can’t thank you guys enough for the mentoring and the time you’ve put into me and the rest of the men out there. I know it has helped shaped my life tremendously. I am very grateful for everything you’ve done. Nothing but love to you all!
It is with great pride we congratulate Zach on his journey. While Zach was in Omaha he met with the CEO of a construction company arranged by a mentor and spent some quality time with him to make his decision on construction management. Zach’s reference to Eric was a person who has become an additional mentor for him. This article could be much longer if we were to add other testimonies. Today Mentors of Bethany in America organization is serving men, women, and youth ages 14 to 18. It is with the power of our faith in God that we all profess by Luke:10 27.