LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Whether it’s on the basketball court, the carpet pool table, or in the computer lab, Andre Bradley uses every opportunity with children to teach them life lessons.
“If you can reach them at an early stage and try to build those building blocks within them, you’ll have a better person,” Andre explained. “And that’s what I want to see, better people.”
Tayshaun Lotharp, 17, is one of the kids Andre has taken under his wing.
“I judged a book by its cover,” Tayshaun said.
The two get along great now, but Tayshaun had a different opinion about Andre when they met late last year at the Penick Boys & Girls Club in Little Rock.
“I was scared of him at first. I didn’t really talk to him at first,” Tayshaun said. “But when I started coming [to the Boys & Girls Club], I got more comfortable with him.”
“When he first came, he was reserved. He kept to himself. He was shy, more of an introvert,” Andre said about Tayshaun.
Tayshaun is the oldest of his mom’s five kids. After moving to Arkansas at the end of last year, he had a difficult start.
“At one point, I was going down a bad path. I was hanging with the wrong crowd,” Tayshaun said.
That’s where Andre stepped in.
“As we got to know each other, he kind of opened up,” Andre said. “I was like, this is actually a good kid. And it just made me want to help him as much as I can.”
Andre not only became a mentor at the club, but he also took another huge step. Tayshaun now lives with Andre and his wife.
“He’s kind of found his niche in our little family and just inserted himself into it,” Andre said with a smile.
Tayshaun now views the man he calls Mr. Andre as a father figure.
“I learned a lot of life lessons from him. He’s super smart. Like, he’s super smart and he’s a good mentor. He teaches me a lot of stuff,” Tayshaun said.
The 17-year-old hopes to use his new tools in a positive way for his younger brothers and sisters.
“I hope I’m a role model to them. I hope they look up to me and are, like, oh, my brother is doing something. I want to do what he’s doing,” Tayshaun said.
“It makes me feel good to see a kid actually blossom. Like a plant when you’re watering it and you finally see it grow and it blossoms into that flower and you’re seeing it right before your eyes,” Andre said.
Andre wants everyone to know time is precious. He believes your time with children at the Boys & Girls Club could make all the difference in the world.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas are always looking for people to volunteer or donate. Click here for more information.