Austin attorney and Big Brother mentor Ben De Leon and his little brother for five years, Anthony Saldana, have been invited to attend an event on mentoring at the White House on Monday, June 21, 2010. This is not the first time the pair has been invited to meet with President Obama.
After winning the 2009 Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) National Big Brother of the Year award, De Leon and Saldana traveled to the White House earlier this year to help promote January as National Mentoring Month, where Saldana had the opportunity to introduce the President. Obama thanked the mentors for their “encouragement, inspiration, [and] the example they are providing to the young people across this country.”
De Leon is helping to encourage others to take the lead and become a mentor. “The real benefit of Big Brothers is the difference Anthony’s making in my life,” said De Leon.
With the summer months here, the BBBS organization is in great need of more mentors for the youth on their waiting list.
“Being a mentor plays a huge service. Putting another individual before yourself gives the mentee the affirmation that they have probably never received before,” said De Leon. He is asking community members to consider being a mentor and a positive influence to kids that need extra attention for the summer months. The mentorship program has a measurable impact in our community, resulting in less youth with substance abuse problems, program participants able to get along better with their families, and a decline in delinquent behavior.
Since joining the program, De Leon says Saldana is more interested in school. “He plays the trombone for band and is going to be getting involved in sports.”
Anthony became a mentee after his grandparents took the steps to add him to the waiting list for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The program has helped fill a parental void for Anthony’s, since his father had not been involved in his life for several years and his mother is not a permanent figure in his life. “I feel like Anthony is part of my family and I’m a part of Anthony’s family,” said De Leon.
De Leon not only mentors, but he is also a board member and contributes financially to the organization so that they may get the word out and find more mentor/mentee matches.
For more information on how to get involved, visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas site www.bigmentoring.org.
Below is video from De Leon and Saldana’s first trip to the White House to celebrate National Mentoring Month in January.