Legacy Ranch Dedication Marks Historic Milestone for Boys to Men Mentoring Network A vibrant tapestry of spring wildflowers beckoned guests on their journey to the top of Palomar Mountain to celebrate the dedication of Legacy Ranch. Gathered in the shade of a canopy of Oak trees, and captivated by sweeping views of the valley below, guests were given a first-hand encounter with a sacred space that inspires Boys to Men Network’s mission: resolving the devastating effects of fatherlessness in the lives of young men. Since Boys to Men Mentoring Network acquired the property in 1996, the ranch has served as a base camp for the nonprofit organization’s Adventure Mountain Weekends. A $100,000 gift from The Legacy Foundation, paid off the mortgage on the property, ensuring the weekend retreats will continue to engage and empower young men for generations to come. In honor of the foundation’s priceless gift, Boys to Men hosted a celebration designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of Legacy Ranch, cultivate their appreciation of the ranch as a backdrop for Adventure Mountain Weekend mentoring activities, and impart the organization’s aspirations for upgrading the property –- as well as enhancing the retreat experience for boys and their mentors -- in the months and years to come. After participating in tours of the ranch footprint, guests sat down at festively-decorated picnic tables for a delicious barbecue lunch prepared and served by Boys to Men volunteers. A tribute to the Legacy Foundation capped off the celebration. Boys to Men Co-Founder and Executive Director Craig McClain delivered a moving thank you to the foundation, and invited founder and chairman, Rolf Benirschke and his fellow board member, Ernie Hahn, to lead the unveiling of the Legacy [...]
Written by Joe Sigurdson, Community Development Director Another day, another mass shooting in America. The arguments that follow are painfully predictable: “We need stricter gun laws and background checks!” “This is not a gun issue; it’s a mental health issue!” “Stop politicizing the issue. It’s too soon to talk about this. Let the families grieve!” Here’s the deal: We HAVE to talk about this now. We have allowed others to speak for us for too long, and we cannot trust any legislation to provide the answers to this problem. We cannot keep deferring the responsibility to politicians. It is going to take work on our part to stop these shootings from happening. We, as a society, are dealing with the outcome of a culture that is producing disconnected children. Our children are trying to hastily fill the gaps in their lives instead of creating genuine connection with their community. Many children, especially boys, turn to gangs, drugs, alcohol, stealing, cutting, and pornography to fill those gaps and numb the pains of loneliness. In my 21 years of working with young men, I have observed several basic needs that are essential for every human being to thrive. Most of these needs are driven by primal desires that are imprinted in our DNA as social beings: the need to be connected, the need to be valued, and the need to have PURPOSE. These exist in all cultures around the planet and tap into a part of our soul that longs to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This is the need that draws us to fiercely defend our family, religion, country, community, sports teams, etc. Simply put, we all long for a sense of purpose, [...]
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 [...]
Each month, Boys to Men is now holding 130 groups in San Diego. This month's Spotlight School is Montgomery Middle School in the Cajon Valley School District. We are currently holding two BTM groups weekly at Montgomery Middle, divided by age and grade (serving 7th and 8th grade boys) with 7 mentors -- 3 staff and 4 volunteers. One student at Montgomery, Jacob, said, “If I have a problem, I can talk about it here,” and another boy, Sam, explained to his BTM mentors, “I can trust you.” From sharing their own life experiences in topics ranging from bullying to drugs and girl problems to gang pressure and drug temptations, our mentors and group facilitators listen without judgment and offer unconditional support to the boys in their circles. Rachel Legrand, Counselor at Montgomery Middle School, explained how our program has helped the fatherless and high-risk boys in her school, “I'm grateful for the opportunities that Boys to Men provides for my students. The group offers them positive role models, a safe and encouraging atmosphere, and caring mentors guiding them into adulthood.” Ms. Legrand continued, “The support that the mentors show my students and our school is overwhelming. Boys to Men is a powerful organization and I hope that each school can experience all that it offers!” As Antonio, a 7th grader at Montgomery Middle School said, “Boys to Men is helping me achieve my goals, and I finally feel good about myself!” For us, that is what it's all about.