'Fathers Mentoring Sons' mentorship program for at-risk youth - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

'Fathers Mentoring Sons' mentorship program for at-risk youth

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Night after night, we hear about crime involving teenagers, and one Chatham County pastor is up for the challenge.

Rev. Thomas Sills hopes a mentoring program he's helping launch will be the answer, and fill a void for many young people in Savannah.

Sills has a heart for youth in this city, but he has also experienced the violence first-hand.

Two teenagers robbed him at gunpoint a few weeks ago.

He said that speaks to the need for change in our community. A change he wants to help make.

In the shadow of the Sweet Field of Eden Baptist Church, many have come to bury their dead. But next door, the church's pastor believes it's not too late to preserve life in his community.

"I believe that's what is missing in the lives of a lot of our young men, and that's why we see the crime that's in our city, the absence of a positive, male role model,” said Rev. Sills, Sweet Field of Eden Baptist Church.

He's starting a mentorship program that pairs men of faith in the community with at-risk teens.

"And our theme is: every man is a father, and every young man is a son,” said Rev. Sills.

They kicked-off the program with a banquet a few months ago, and now, they're opening up enrollment for young men to sign up.

So far, about 75 men have committed to be mentors, including the church's organist, Adrian Dillon.

"I'm a father that experienced a disconnect with my son growing up, and someone stepped in the gap for me, so I felt like this was an opportunity to pay it forward," said Dillon, mentor.

The program is designed to create healthy conversation in group activities, so kids are never alone with a man they don't know.

"But it provides pockets of opportunities for us to have healthy dialogue about what's going in these kids' lives,” said Dillon.

Rev. Sills knows the model works, because he's seen its success first-hand.

He's mentored one 14-year-old who saw friends killed in shootings and others arrested.

"I was one of those who was going down the path, but I stopped before it was too late,” said Anton Beal, mentee.

And he said having a mentor in Rev. Sills made all the difference.

"There are some men out here who care, who's willing to give their free time to help you and shape you and mold you into the man you will be in the future," said Beal.

"These young men have someone they can go to, who they can talk to. They don't need to reach out to gangs for positive reinforcement. There's a man saying, 'I care, I'm here, I want to be a part of your life,'" said Rev. Sills. 

If you're interested in being a mentor, or if you know a young man who could use a mentor, you can find more information on the Fathers Mentoring Sons website and Facebook page

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