EUGENE, Ore. — The Boys & Girls Club serves nearly 1,000 kids a year.
These kids come from all different types of families with large and small incomes. They have one thing in common. These kids are looking for guidance, someone to mentor them in these early very impressionable points of their lives.
Here is our first look at a mentor you might know very well in the community and mentees just looking for someone to answer this call to help.
It’s not every day you get to toss around a football with a star quarterback and former Duck football player.
Marcus Mariota is one of the most prolific quarterbacks on one of the most exciting and successful college teams in the nation. But this Heisman contender also measures his victories by those he’s helped and inspired.
“For me growing up it was always important to have a mentor and have somebody to look up to and hopefully emulate for me. I am hopefully able to do the right things and allow those kids to look up to me,” Mariota said.
And there are plenty of kids here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Emerald Valley who depend on this Duck. Mariota is one of a number of mentors here, and one of his little mentee’s, Tommy Anderson, a fourth grader at Cesar Chavez Elementary.
“He helps me with homework and getting better with sportsmanship,” Anderson said.
“A lot of times, especially as an athlete, you get caught up in your busy day and your busy routine and you forget to be thankful for certain things and to come out here and be a part of the Boys & Girls Club really just humbles me, brings me back to my foundations,” Mariota said.
Some of these kids are too young to know they are in the presence of greatness, to them Mariota is just someone on the sidelines showing he cares.
“I kind of look up to him like a big brother,” Anderson said.
“It gives me a time to kind of unwind and be a part of these kids’ lives and just be myself and to enjoy it,” Mariota said.
But not all of these kids get one-on-one mentoring. That’s because the Boys & Girls Club is in need of mentors. There are currently about a dozen kids waiting for someone to sign up. Colton and Dakoda Scott are brothers hoping for someone to answer the call and volunteer.
The Boys & Girls Club says 67 percent of alumni say the club kept them out of trouble with the law. Sixty-two percent say the club helped them commit to their education.
“Some kids really need a mentor, and if they don’t have one they could get really angry or hurt themselves or hurt other people,” Anderson said.
For the Scott brothers, they just want someone they can be boys with.
“If we wanted to go to the gym with a mentor, it would be the best because we would have a lot of fun play with the football, soccer ball,” said Colton Scott.
“To be a part of the Boys & Girls Club, to to be a volunteer, to be a mentor, it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff,” Mariota said.
And for someone who’s likely going to experience a fair share of once in a lifetimes, those are strong words.
Words hopefully will inspire others to take a timeout to touch others. Making a difference with a hug, a hike, or a high five, it would seem being a mentor might just allow us all to feel like superstars.
If you would like to find out how you can become a mentor, call the Boys & Girls Clubs of Emerald Valley at 541-345-9939.