Making a Difference, and a Connection, Through Service

Zion Smith and Bob Rubin

Smith and Rubin served more than 100 meals during their volunteer shift at the Salvation Army.

Mentoring is not only about adults imparting wisdom on young people. Sometimes it’s about sharing an experience and learning together.

In the fall, our Mentoring With a Purpose program will introduce a service component designed to make a difference in the community while raising awareness in our young men and their mentors. On Sunday, May 19, Bob Rubin and Zion Smith put this plan into practice when they volunteered at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen in Harlem. They worked the lunch shift and helped serve more than 100 meals.

“The experience was absolutely amazing,” Smith said. “I believe everyone should give back if they have the chance. It felt great seeing smiles on people’s faces and really motivated me to do much more for my community.”

Rubin, a co-founder of The Bridge Golf Foundation, found that the work led to a discussion not only about the people they were helping but also about broader societal issues.

“It was a sobering experience, to be sure, and prompted a long conversation about how flimsy the social safety net in America is,” Rubin said.

The interaction with the Salvation Army staff was also enlightening.

“I was particularly struck by how interested the staff was in our program,” Rubin said. “They went out of their way to engage Zion about their work, and to caution him about the ‘poor life choices’ many of the attendees had made.”

Community service has always been part of our character education curriculum, and now it will be integrated into our mentoring program as well. Mentors and mentees will discuss service opportunities, choose one they’re most interested in, and volunteer together.

The work will make a real difference in the lives of others while leading to experiences and conversations that will be as valuable for our mentors as they will be for our young men.