We are excited to recognize our April Volunteer of the Month, who was nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama, one of United Way of Southwest Alabama’s newest partners. Congratulations to Royce Ray for being selected as our Volunteer of the Month!
Diane Cook of Big Brothers Big Sisters nominated Royce based on his exemplary service to our community and his willingness to help others. This is what Diane had to say about Royce:
“One of our biggest challenges as an agency is recruiting men to serve as volunteer mentors…“Big Brother” and AEU employee Royce Ray, made the commitment seven years ago to serve as a mentor through our School Based program. “
Royce was immediately committed to his “Little” and strived to be the best big brother he could be. Diane went on to tell a little bit about Royce’s journey as a big brother:
“Royce Ray became a “Big Brother” on October 23, 2008 and has been matched with his “Little Brother,” Carl, throughout this entire time. When they were first matched, Carl lived in a house with only women, a young boy striving to manhood in a sea of estrogen; his father lived four hours away and had limited contact with him. As their coordinator, I felt as if I were throwing Carl a life preserver- Royce. Royce and Carl have been matched for seven years and continue to meet once a week at Carl’s high school. “
The impact Royce has made on Carl’s life is sure to be life-long. You can see the evidence in Carl’s life throughout the years. Diane gave us just a snapshot of the difference in Carl’s life:
“Because of his unwavering support and dedication, Royce has been a source of encouragement for Carl over these many years. Carl has developed an interest in academics has studious behavior, and plans to attend college to become an engineer. Carl has maintained above average grades, made the honor roll, and is a key player on his school’s basketball, football, and baseball varsity teams! One of my favorite memories of Carl and Royce was watching them play basketball for a video clip. Royce attempted a shot, and it would bounce. Another shot, and miss. And then I heard from Carl, ‘Come on, you can do it, you can make at least one!’ The sweet sound of encouragement that echoed from years of Royce’s influence telling Carl, “come on, you can do it, you can make the grade… you can make the team… you can make yourself better!’”
It is easy to see why Diane nominated Royce for this recognition, and very easy to see how much Royce deserves to be recognized. We caught up with Royce to ask him a few questions about his volunteer work with Carl and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
UWSWA: What made you want to begin volunteering?
Royce: I had great opportunities due to great parents and many strong mentors/role models. I want to give back what I was lucky to have received to hopefully make our community a better place. There is no greater cause than helping a child in need.
UWSWA: What do you enjoy about volunteering?
Royce: Seeing the time that I have spent mentoring has made a real, measurable difference in my “Little’s” life. It’s a great feeling to know that you helped a child stay on the right path to success in life.
UWSWA: Is there a moment that stands out in your mind about your volunteer experience as interesting or noteworthy?
Royce: Most definitely. Several years ago during one of my visits with my “Little” near the end of the school year, he looked at me and said, “you’re gonna pick me again, right?” I cannot imagine better proof of the success of our mentoring match relationship.
UWSWA: Why would you recommend volunteering to others?
Royce: You CAN make a real difference in this world. If you impact positively only one life, it is worth it. Imagine the possibilities if everyone in Mobile County became a mentor to an at-risk child. Volunteering works and is the right thing to do.
A huge THANK YOU again to Diane for nominating Royce and to Royce for the amazing work you do to positively impact our community. Your work does not go unnoticed.