Big Homies strives to intervene in the lives of underprivileged young men facing the everyday challenges of life in the inner city such as absent fathers, domestic violence, gang violence, drug abuse, premature sex, school truancy and other obstacles to a healthy adulthood.
“I wouldn’t say I came from a broken home. I came from a neighborhood with a lot of broken people. I know what it can do,” explained Andrews.Through the program, young men and boys ages 8-13 (Little Homies) are linked with men from similar backgrounds (Big Homies) in a trust-based mentoring relationship. Children in the program are provided with free tutoring, counseling, and group trips to area attractions.
Recently, the students have traveled to the African American Museum of Art, the Science Center, L.A. Zoo, hiking trips, etc. As an added incentive, students who stay out of trouble, at home and in school, for the entire year are treated to a trip to Universal Studios.
When the young men first join the program, they are tested academically and physically and then are tutored and/or involved in exercise classes. The boys are re-tested four months later, and Andrews says there is always a big increase in test scores.
The organization only has 13 regular students who meet twice a week due to problems with funding. Currently, the program is completely funded by donations. The parents of the children, if they can, donate $10 a month and the board members donate $200 a year. With that funding Andrews hopes to expand the program to help more students this September.
“Longevity is our biggest accomplishment. Even with our funding issues, we have kept going, and to see boys who were in the program graduate from high school and even go off to college is a really huge accomplishment,” said Andrews.
Andrews identifies the organization’s biggest challenge as not having as much support from the parents as he would like.
“If I can spend time trying to help their children for a couple of hours twice a week, then I think the parents can give me at least one hour. Come to an outing. Just come in and see what we are doing. Unfortunately, we just get a lot of excuses.”
Big Homies is currently seeking more men to volunteer as mentors/Big Homies who are determined to teach by example and communicate to each young man the importance of living a life of respect and to help these boys grow into healthy, intelligent, successful young men.
If interested, contact Vernon Andrews at Vernon@bighomies.org.