The rewarding benefits of mentoring are shared in the latest book by Barbara A. Perkins, ‘The Magic of Mentoring, Pearls of Wisdom.’
Through the voices of 47 contributing authors, Perkins reveals the transforming effect of the activity on both the mentor and mentee.
“I feel that mentoring is magical and can change lives. That’s proven by the contributing authors who tell their stories about the positive impact that mentoring had on their lives,” said Perkins during her book-signing reception at the Sentinel office on May 7.
Through the book, Perkins hopes to inspire more people, especially African American men of all ages, to commit to mentoring.
“In the mentoring world, when you call out for mentors, the first people that stand up are white women, then white men, then black women and last, black men,” she explained.
“I want to encourage black men to mentor because we need them. We’re losing our black boys.”
Current statistics verify her statement that black youth and young men are at greater risk to fall into juvenile delinquency and incarceration than their white counterparts. While this well-known fact has not increased the ranks of mentors, Perkins remains fully committed to recruiting more people through ‘The Magic of Mentoring.’
“The message [of the book] is two-fold. One, mentoring works and here are people that can tell you their stories of mentoring. The second message is ‘You can mentor.’
“So often, black men think they can’t or don’t know how to mentor or don’t have time. But, it can take as little as four hours per week to mentor. But if a child knows you are coming every week, being consistent and it’s a meaningful and engaging experience in the short time that you have, it matters,” she said.
Echoing her comments, Danny Bakewell, Jr., noted, “My first love is coaching which in some way, shape or form is mentoring through sports. I have a young man I coached named Rodney Mathews. I coached him in football starting at the age of 8. Rodney played football at Fresno State and will graduate from Fresno State this weekend.
“Rodney is more than a kid I coached, we have developed a bond. Over the years he has become ‘my other son.’ My kids talk about their other brother. Watching him grow, deal with challenges and become the man he has become gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
“The gift of just having him as a part of my life, the gift of having him as part of my family has impacted my life in ways I cannot explain. He has truly given me, as much if not more than I have ever given him,” said Bakewell, a contributor to ‘The Magic of Mentoring’ and the Sentinel’s Executive Editor and Chief of Staff .
As for African American men being mentors, he added, “As I said in Barbara’s book, only an African American man can share the wisdom and challenges of being an African American man to another one.
“If we are going to thrive as a people, it is the responsibility of each of us to reach out and give back. It does not require any great financial or long term commitment, but it does require that we share our experiences and help to teach those who come after us by sharing both our successes and our failures.”
In an interesting side-note, Perkins revealed that her upbringing in the Bahamas influenced her to use 47 male and female contributors and the book’s sub-title, ‘Pearls of Wisdom.’
“I choose the number 47 because it requires 47 gems to make a strand of pearls. I’m American-born, but I grew up in the Bahamas and in our culture, when the girls were given their first set of pearls, that really meant something, it was real special.
“I also found out that it might take going through 10,000 gems to find 47 matching ones. When I thought about that metaphor and I think about our children, out of 10,000 children, maybe only 47 get an opportunity. I think they all should have an opportunity and it should be equal,” said Perkins.
“One of the things that equalizes is mentoring. It’s free and just requires a little bit of time for someone to hear our youth, touch them and encourage them. Really, this book is for both adults and young people, to inspire them to mentor others.
‘The Magic of Mentoring, Pearls of Wisdom’ is the first in a series of three mentoring-focused books by Perkins that will be released this year. The second book will feature contributions by African American men and the third book will have young people, ages 15 to 25, sharing their experience with peer-to-peer mentoring.
This book, as well other works by Perkins, is available at Amazon.com, Eso Won Bookstore, and at barbaraaperkins.com.