And so it was in law school as well. Even after I passed the bar I had little direction, and I longed for some real-world advice from a real-world person who knew the way, who had been down the road and back again. It took a serendipitous meeting between my mother and a newly-elected official to jump start my career: she asked Councilman John Fusco to give her son a job. He accepted my resume, and one day a few months later my phone rang and my life as an adult began.
John Fusco became my mentor on the day I walked into his office, and I’ve often thought over the years about how much I would have benefited from knowing him while I was still in high school; how many mistakes might have been avoided, into how many blind alleys I wouldn’t have walked, and how many fewer unanswered questions would have plagued me during those angst-ridden years.
A few months back we held an event here at Borough Hall – we called it an Evening of Mentors. Each high school in the borough sent students whom they though would benefit from such a meeting, and we invited professional friends of Borough Hall: lawyers, doctors, writers, artists, cultural leaders, nurses, first responders, chefs – it was a wonderful evening that benefited ALL participants.
We need more of this on Staten Island. There are so many accomplished people who would like to give of their time, and so many needy young people who need to be mentored.
That is why I was so happy to learn that Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York (BBBS) was opening a dedicated Staten Island office at 60 Bay Street. I met a few weeks ago with the BBBS Executive Director Hector Batista and the Staten Island Big Sister of the Year, an inspirational young lady named Amanda Tavarez.
Young Ms. Tavarez, 25 years old, detailed the wonderful positive impact she has made on her “Little,” and highlighted the need for more Staten Islanders to get involved. Mr. Batista told me of the need for “Bigs” to meet the demands of the community – especially male Bigs. Right now, Bigs are being asked to come to Staten Island from other boroughs, and that is something I am determined to change. Charity begins at home - we should be helping our own communities.
It is not a great commitment in time; if you are over the age of 21, and can spare 8 hours a month (4 hours every two weeks), and if you feel like giving back, you will be doing a great service to our borough.
Time to step up, Staten Island!