Dillon County mentorship program aims to keep young boys off streets

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 8:03 PM EDT
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DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Members of the Dillon County community are on a mission to help young boys stay out of trouble.

First Sgt. Robert Porter with the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office started the Boys to Men mentorship program at the end of last school year with the blessing of late Sheriff Douglas Pernell. He said he’s worked as a SRO in schools in the area for over 20 years, and what he’s seen in that time inspired him to start the program.

“Most of them end up going to prison or lost their lives at an early age,” said Porter. “Everyone was talking about doing something but no one really was doing anything.”

The organization had its first meeting on Friday at Gordon Elementary School where students got to meet one another and were divided into teams.

Porter said he hopes to mentor the boys all the way through high school. But, he says starting now, in fourth and fifth grade, is crucial.

“I saw a big difference from elementary school to middle school, it seems like there’s a big gap, they begin to change dramatically,” said Porter.

He added that the program will not only help students in school but will also introduce them to community service and learning to help others.

Parents like Janesha Jones say they think this will be beneficial for their sons.

“I think this program is really good for him because he’s struggling with his math right now and it’s really helping him, and it’s been helping him become a better person,” said Jones.

The boys also say they have learned a lot.

“We learned that if one goes down, the whole team goes down because we are a team,” said Jeremiah Fajardo.

“Listen, follow the rules, you’ll be a long way, go a long way,” said Jaheem Manning.

Porter says they are just getting started, and his goal is to have mentorship programs in all of the schools in Dillon County.

“It’s not just Dillon School District, you gotta do the same thing in Dillon District Three, we’re moving over there after we get everything settled and running in Dillon,” said Porter. “I’m gonna give this program to the SROs in Latta to incorporate it in their schools because it’s a need all the way around.”

Porter said he has about 70 boys signed up for the program.

He added that the program isn’t funded by the school district and donations are always appreciated.

You can help out by donating to the program through Cashapp by searching “BTM Mentoring” or Porter said donations can be sent to the school directly for the program.