In December 2017, a Dallas middle school put out a call for ‘volunteer dads’ to help mentor young students in need of guidance as part of a Breakfast with Dads event. The goal was to get 50. But thanks to the involvement and outreach of community leaders on a school task force, more than 600 men showed up to help.
On Thursday, did it again.
"I think it is going to change lives," said Principal Sharron Jackson of Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School, the host site of Tuesday’s event, now named Big Breakfast. "Big Breakfast has the potential to change so many lives in such a short period of time because of the mentoring that our children need and deserve."
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Big Breakfast is part of a collaboration between the Dallas Independent School District, the nonprofit organization Big Thought and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Dallas.
"Our goal is to make sure that we get mentors here and that we are able to kick start — and this is the start — a longer-term relationship with the young and men and women who are students here at this campus," said Byron Sanders, President and CEO of Big Thought, which focuses on youth education and development.
Nearly 150 volunteer mentors, both men and women, helped the children of Holmes Middle School.
"You're the one that used to sit across the street at that church in the police car," said 6th grader Rayquan Smith when he met his mentor, DISD Officer Derrick Anderson. "I'm not always sweet," Rayquan confessed with a twinkle in his eye as he told Anderson he sometimes struggles with anger and cursing.
"You wouldn't want me curising you out in uniform, would you," Anderson asked Smith laughing, then showed him some breathing exercises to calm himself. "Can you feel your heartbeat slow down? So you get upset and feel you're gonna be angry and do something to someone, you practice tactical breathing."
"We just don't want to miss this window of opportunity during adolescence to help our children be exposed to those types of skills," said Jackson.
The goal is to make the Big Breakfast bigger than just one breakfast, or one day, but an ongoing relationship.
"They're the leaders of tomorrow," explained Officer Anderson. "If we fail them today, what does tomorrow look like?"