Keondre Choice, age 14, knew his mentor, Michael Hicks, would be celebrating Father’s Day for the first time as a new Dad.
Choice and Hicks were paired together through the non-profit organization, A Steady Hand. Inspired by a “Breakfast with Dads” event, Donald Ray Parish Jr. decided to establish a new organization to address the effects of fatherlessness on today’s youth. A Steady Hand provides mentorship, educational exposure and leadership development.
“I ordered a picture of us for the house,” said Choice’s mother, Wylonia Johnson. Choice asked her, “Hey- why not get that picture of Mike and I done so I can give it to him on his first Father’s Day?”
In a heartwarming surprise, Choice brought a framed photo of the two of them to Hicks’ home as a gift.
“Mike was a great mentor and a great man,” said Choice. “The talks that we had were amazing and helped me out a lot. If we had more men like him to give there time the community would much better.”
Choice praised Hicks as a “good mentor and good big brother” and says he will be a good father.
Hicks was touched by the gesture and said, “As a mentor, you really don’t know if your kids are listening or care. Then they show you- and, in that moment, you realize all that you are doing is not in vain. They love that you care.”
“The hidden blessing in mentoring is that the original deposit of love that a mentor pours into a mentee is often returned hundredfold,” says Parish. The organization is based in Dallas and currently partnering with six schools throughout the city.
Stephanie Drenka is the Founding Editor of VISIBLE Magazine and Communications Director for Dallas Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. She is a 2021 Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project.