LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On any given school day, you can find Dunbar student James Gray in the band hall fine tuning his skills on the drums.
“When I be mad at stuff, it relieves me. I can go to the drums for anything. It’s helped me a lot,” James said.
The drum set he was playing on was a gift from the downtown Rotary Club and James’ mentor, Hank Kelley.
“It took me about two seconds to look at James’ smile and realize that I thought I could relate to James in a way that maybe I could help him in some ways,” Hank said.
Hank and his Rotary Club recently started a mentorship program at Little Rock School District’s Dunbar Magnet Middle School. Volunteers come to the school each week and meet with their mentees, as well as, participate in projects around the campus.
“All of my children are adult children now, so getting to be connected again to a school and having the energy level of a school has really lifted my spirits,” Hank said.
Hank also attended James’ football games and band practices.
“I look up, he be in that same spot every time, that’s Mr. Kelley right there,” James said.
This mentor-mentee pairing has helped all aspects of James’ life.
“I go to him for math stuff that I don’t know. He help me with reading, I go to him. Any stuff like motivation, he gives it to me and he helps me a lot,” James said.
That feeling was mutual.
“He’s teaching me and doesn’t even know it, but whenever I listen to him about what his likes are and what his needs are, it helps prepare me as a grandparent for that,” Hank said.
January is National Mentoring Month.