Although all of our boys are an important part of our BTM community, there are some that immediately form a bond with his mentors, group facilitators and peers. Angel, who only recently began his journey with BTM, is a special young man who attends Kipp Adelante Middle School. The mention of his name encourages a smile from several of the staff members and volunteers who have had the good fortune of meeting him.
While he is new to our program, Angel intends to stick around BTM for the foreseeable future. We recently asked Angel for a few minutes of his time during an in-school tutoring session. He was excited to share what Boys to Men has meant to him and how being a part of our group has changed his life for the better.
BTM: How did you first hear about Boys to Men, and what made you decide to check out the group at your school?
Angel: I first heard about Boys to Men at my school, and I wanted to see what it was all about. I had some pretty big issues going on in my personal life, and I knew I needed to do something – I had to make a change.
BTM: What kind of trouble had you been getting in?
Angel: I was really just screwing up in school, bullying other kids, and not listening to adults in my life.
BTM: And how did you feel at that time?
Angel: I felt like I was stuck in a little room. I was SO angry, and I couldn’t get out; so my anger just kept building, and it was always stuck in my head. I couldn’t let it go that I had this bad stuff happen to me when I was younger.
It was a weight on my shoulders, and I wore a mask to try to cover up all the pain. The mask was me acting like I didn’t care, and that I wasn’t hurt.
But I was. I didn’t trust anyone.
BTM: So how did your Boys to Men mentors help you change that feeling of being trapped?
Angel: Honestly, they helped me get out of that little room. They helped me find the door, open it, and walk out. Going up on the Adventure Mountain Weekend was a total game-changer for me, you know. I was able to realize a lot about who I really am and what I need to do to become a better person. I am not perfect now, but I am proud of myself. I like who I am now.
BTM: Which mentors have helped you the most?
Angel: I have gotten really close with Marco, Louis, Jose and Anthony.
They have all helped me in different ways because we have been in the same situations. They know how I feel, and they know what it takes to get past all that.
Like, Louis told me one time that there isn’t anything I can do about the past, just like he can’t change his painful past. But I can’t hold it in and keep doing mean stuff to other kids because eventually I will be alone that way.
For some reason, his words just sunk in, and I was able to let stuff go finally.
BTM: How have your mentors been able to support you this year?
Angel: Well, they never let me down. They are my family now. My mentors support me, and I know can text or call them anytime, and they won’t say they don’t have time for me. I can ask for their opinion when I’m having a problem.
My mentor Marco is like a shoulder for me to lean on when I need help. I am sure I would be in juvenile hall right now if I hadn’t met Marco and my other mentors. They helped me realize who I am and who I WANT to be.
BTM: Who do you want to be? And what is your hope for your future?
Angel: I want to stop the cycle all the other men in my family have kept going. I want to be what my parents weren’t. I am going to try to go to a high school that has Boys to Men in it, like maybe High Tech High in Point Loma. Then I want to go into the US Navy and either be a jet mechanic or pilot, and then I want to be a businessman.
I have big plans, and now I know I can do it.
Whatever I want, I can make it happen.
*Featured image of Angel and Mentor Coordinator Marco Rodriguez