By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Merv Mattair’s organization, “Boys to Kings” started out with 12 boys in the program; now it has grown to 20. Currently, there are nine adult men serving as mentors and role models, and when Mattair addressed the Kiwanis Club at their Sept. 22 meeting, he emphasized the need for more adult men to volunteer. With more adults, the program can benefit more young men as they struggle with the issues of growing up and taking on adulthood.
To emphasize the importance of a positive Christian male role model in a young boy’s life, Mattair shared his own story of growing up in Madison and running with the wrong crowd; when he got a young girl pregnant, his friends told him to walk away; it wasn’t his problem, they said.
His father did not agree and forced him to do the right thing.
Then something happened – during the nine months of standing by the girl instead of abandoning her, he began to like helping her and taking care of her during her pregnancy.
Today, she is his wife.
Another male role model, Allen Cherry, hired him for a full time job that gave him an income and allowed him to stay in high school.
Realizing the importance of positive Christian male role models, Mattair now seeks to bring that same positive influence to other young men who need a little help making the kinds of decisions that effect their lives.
The program is not a babysitting service, he said. It is a family affair. If the parents are not involved, the child cannot join. The program receives no grant money or any other source of funding except what the parents contribute. The meetings are “potluck” with all the parents bringing a dish, and they hold car washes and other fundraisers to take care of basic expenses.
The program consists of adhering to 12 basic principals needed for a successful life: honoring family, respecting women, respecting elders, staying physically fit, positive decision making, reading literature, learning from other people’s mistakes, never giving up, self respect, silent prayer, accepting accountability and proper appearance.
“People are judgmental creatures,” he said, in reference to the final principle. “How you look plays a major role in how far you go.”
Boys to Kings also teaches helping others and giving back to the community, whether it’s helping out one’s elderly neighbors or bringing Thanksgiving turkeys to less fortunate families.
The role models meet once a week with their charges, and then everyone, including parents, get together once a month. The families getting together become like a larger family themselves, a family not only helping and supporting their children, but helping and supporting each other another as well.
Mattair believes the movement will take off in other states because, “it’s grassroots. It’s driven by passion, a passion for Christ. It’s not about money, it’s all about Christ.”