La Mesa, CALIFORNIA — Every mentor has a story to tell. Our mentors are encouraged to share their deepest joys, fears, and dreams every week in group, and those stories of lessons learned provide the framework that our boys use to map out their own futures. Here’s the story of Barry Mahlberg who is currently a mentor at Greenfield Middle School.
Barry was raised in a strict household as a child. “My father was an army officer, and I often felt like nothing I did was ever good enough,” Barry recalls. “The accountability was definitely there but the encouragement and affection were sometimes lacking. “Through my experience as a kid, raising 2 of my own and mentoring countless children and young adults in sports and business, I realized how much I had a heart for kids.”
In 2005, Barry became a court appointed special advocate for a foster child. Once the child was adopted, Barry wanted to continue mentoring children but felt that one-on- one mentoring was limiting. “I wanted to impact more kids with each encounter and to be part of an organization.” Barry remembers. “ I also wanted to give a perspective to kids, that otherwise have been given low expectations, that being a successful man was a worthy pursuit in and of itself.” That is where Boys to Men fit in.
Barry stumbled on Boys to Men in 2014 and soon began mentoring at Montgomery Middle School. “The concept of adults working together with kids was new to me, but it was perfect because I have just as much fun working with the adults as I do kids. To see the passion and integrity of so many good men is inspiring,” Barry recounts. After his first Adventure Mountain Weekend, Barry was convinced that Boys to Men was exactly what he was looking for. Barry explains, “The camaraderie paired with watching how the kids responded to the retreat was a real eye opener for me.”
Barry believes that the real power of Boys to Men is that mentors are encouraged to find a connection of common ground with the boys. “It is so important to find a way to relate to them. The program is set up to encourage good choices rather than a “do this, do that” mentality.”
After attending a few more Adventure Mountain Weekends, Barry inquired about the organization’s expansion plans and was connected with Executive Director, Craig McClain. His business background and desire to move Boys to Men forward soon led him to become a member of the board of directors of which he is still a member of today.
Barry is excited to see Boys to Men grow nationwide. “I believe that fatherless boys contributes to some of society’s ills. What we are doing here aims to turn the tide. I’m convinced of that.”