Mentoring group aims to make a difference in Donaldsonville youth

Brandie Richardson
L to R: Donaldsonville Councilman Lauthaught Delaney Sr., St. John the Baptist Parish Lt. Troy Cassioppi, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre, Retired Lt. Colonel Melvin Danrich, Lowery Middle School Career Coach Dorthy Claiborne, Deputy Director of the Port of South Louisiana Roy Quezaire, Program Organizer/ Mentor Renard Southall, Civic Leader/ Mentor Mark Peters, Lowery Elementary Principal Karen Daigle, Ascension Parish Public Schools Parent Facilitator Wanda August, Walmart Sponsor Freda Sykes, Lowery Elementary Assistant Principal Lydia Mabile and Civc Leader/ Mentor Tim Riley.

Fifth and sixth grade Lowery Middle School boys gathered on Jan. 9 for the first Young Men of Character (YMOC) meeting of the year.

The guest speakers for the meeting were St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre and Lt. Troy Cassioppi, retired bomber pilot Lt. Colonel Melvin Dandridge, Port of South LA Deputy Director Roy Quezaire and Ascension Parish School Board Parent Facilitator Wanda August.

Though each speaker touched on a different topic, the goal was the same, to teach the young men life skills and leadership, with an emphasis on the importance of finishing school and getting either a higher education or entering the workforce.

Tregre spoke to the students about law enforcement, the importance of education and having a back up plan after sports, while Dandridge told those in attendance about his time as a bomber pilot.

"My talk is not to save all of you guys, I can't do that, but if I am here today and I help one person succeed today then I have done my job, that's my goal," said Tregre.

Program Organizer and mentor Renard Southall said this meeting in particular was special because January marks National Mentoring Month and also because it was given in honor of the late Richard "Coach" Brown, who paved the way for the YMOC program.

"Of all the schools we go into we find that this community is more in need of our mentoring program than any other school," Southall said. "We want to try to make a difference and have an impact on these kids so that they will be able to make better choices in life.

These are some exceptionally great kids, we caught them at the right age where they are impressionable and we hope that we have a real positive impact on them."