Volunteers flock to Dallas school to help mentor students

People wanting to mentor boys and girls in Dallas were invited to a breakfast Thursday morning.

The event known as “Big Breakfast” was held at O.W. Holmes Middle School, in east Oak Cliff.

Last year, 600 men from across Dallas answered a social media call to have breakfast with students at Dade Middle School. Leaders there feared turnout would be low again for their annual “Breakfast with Dads” event.

The success evolved into a long-term mentorship program that has spread to six schools throughout the city with help from the non-profit organizations Big Thought and Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star.

This year, women were encouraged to join in too. The goal is to reach more young people and make an impact on their lives.

“It takes a village to raise a child and we needed mentors. All of us have had mentors in our lives and why not have children start that process a lot sooner… someone to talk to, someone to share their stories. So our district is pushing the social and emotional learning for our students and we think this is an awesome opportunity,” said Holmes Middle School Principal Sharron Jackson.

Thursday’s event was a first step for new volunteers to get to know the students and hopefully become their mentors starting next school year.

“A friend recommended it. She said it’s being organized and then I saw the mission statement and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s like a really good thing to attend,’” said Beza Woda, a first-time volunteer.

Woda said she always turns to people older than herself for help. She thinks it’s only natural that a student would need to turn to someone older for help explaining things or in life.

My’kera Cleveland is an eighth-grader at Holmes who dreams of one day being an anesthesiologist. She sat with Woda for the breakfast.

“I think if this is my mentor we will get along. I think I will actually like it,” she said.

Organizers said the commitment is relatively small for volunteers. For anyone else who is interested, visit www.bigthought.org/event/big-breakfast/.