On Tuesday, nearly 75 mentors and those they mentor through the Link One Program were honored for their hard work and dedication at a special luncheon in Duncan. Link One is a program that pairs leaders in the community with students in the Duncan Public School District to put them on the path to becoming better people.
Mentee Darius Williams shared his story and struggles with dozens of people in the community. He said Link One changed him for the better.
In the past he's had to deal with being placed in and out of foster care. He now stays with his grandma, and thanks his mentor for loving and supporting him.
"Well I've had a lot of anger and its changed my anger because I know I have somebody to talk too when I really didn't have anybody to talk to earlier on," said Williams.
Darius Williams is a 7th grade student at Duncan Middle School and has been with Link One for two and a half years. He thanks his mentor Ron Mulkey for being there when he needs him, and supporting him no matter what. Williams truly admires his mentor's personality.
"He can lightening up a room when it's dark," said Williams.
"Oh Darius is an awesome kid. He has got so much talent. He has an awesome intelligence and really knows what's going on," said Mulkey.
Mulkey even remembers the first time he and Darius met.
"I brought him lunch and he prayed for that lunch and his prayer was straight from the heart and I just knew this was a special guy," said Mulkey.
Eating lunch once every week is just one of the many things they do. Mulkey also helps Williams with his homework, plays video games, and takes him to church. Director for Link One Carol Wanzor said mentors make a huge commitment to support their mentees. They have to complete several hours of training, and find time to visit them every week. When students enter the program they lack confidence, and struggle in the classroom.
But Wanzor said the program has grown and the success speaks for itself.
"We have seen children go from really struggling academically to being outstanding students and in some advanced program and that may or not be because the mentor worked with them directly on academics but just lifting up their self-esteem," said Wanzor.
Williams said he is grateful for Link One and plans to follow in his mentors footsteps.
"Help somebody else in the future because what I've been through, and he's helped me with that I would like to help somebody else out if they were going through the same situation," said Williams.