Malcolm Finds a Mentor to Rely on
Growing up, Leon Buxton saw several family members head down the wrong path, and he promised himself he would lead his life differently. Today, he is inspiring young people like Malcolm to do the same by being their mentor.
Like most children and young people who come to Youth Villages for help, Malcolm grew up in a troubled home. As a young teen, he started getting into trouble himself and ended up at Youth Villages. He is just the kind of kid Leon Buxton, a Youth Villages mentor, hoped to meet.
“I think all kids like to see someone who does the right thing.”
– Leon Buxton, mentor
Buxton, 30, grew up in humble circumstances. His family did not even have running water in their home, but his dad was there to instill values that have stuck. After high school, he joined the U.S. Navy, determined to give his life a different turn.
He married his girlfriend, and the couple had a daughter, now 5. They also began raising one of Buxton’s younger cousins who came to him for help.
Buxton heard about mentoring through a friend and was quick to sign up.
When his dream job helping Navy personnel further their education became available in Memphis, he decided to move. Looking for a new mentor program, he came across Youth Villages.
Youth Villages has been providing mentors to children in our residential programs for more than 10 years through the Chris Crye Mentor Program. Since early 2007, Youth Villages has also partnered with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to match adult mentors with foster children through Governor Bredesen’s Mentoring Initiative.
“I’m positive, and I do things the right way,” Buxton says. “I think all kids like to see someone who does the right thing.”
Buxton so far has mentored four Youth Villages teenagers, being a role model and building lasting bonds with them. Two of the kids he mentored still call him regularly after returning to their families.
Buxton now is a mentor to Malcolm. Both enjoy spending time with each other, especially playing basketball.
“I think everyone is good inside, and I believe in giving people second chances and in giving somebody inspiration to do the right things,” Buxton says. “I try to make a difference in every person’s life that I come across.”
Buxton has been making a difference in Malcolm’s life. The teen has opened up to his mentor, and when they’re not playing sports, video games or pool together, they talk about how Malcolm can build a better future for himself – playing sports, going to college or joining the military.