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Milledgeville man wins state award | News

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Milledgeville man wins state award
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A Milledgeville man won the state's Brother of the Year award and is now in the running for the top national honor, which will be announced later this month.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring organization for young children.

"I am ecstatic," LaVance Hurt said. "I'm very honored, but I am a humble man."

Hurt joined the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia three years ago.

That's when he was paired with his little brother, Rubin "RJ" Pyatt, now 13.

"When I mentor, I don't feel like it's a job or a duty. I feel that it's a calling. It's something that I should do," Hurt said.

Hurt says during his own childhood, he was in and out of juvenile centers.

But with the right guidance, he says he was able to turn his life around and get a nursing degree.

That's why Hurt believes positive role models and nurturing mentors are so important to the community.

"It takes a village to raise a child," Hurt said. "Rubin is like a son to me."

Hurt says over three years of mentoring, he's seen Pyatt grow and develop.

"He's maturing. He's more outspoken, more assertive. It's a joy to watch that," Hurt said.

Pyatt says he wouldn't be the person he is today without that mentorship.

"I first met LaVance in 2011 after I lost my father. I really needed a father figure at that time," Pyatt said. "When [LaVance] first told me I was like a son to him, I was really proud of it because I didn't know I made that impression on him. When I finally figured it out I was like, 'Wow,' I found somebody that really cares about me."

Pyatt says he wants to double-major in zoology and theater.

"My goal is to be the first African-American James Bond," Pyatt said.

Central Georgia chapter president, Dianna Glymph, says they still need 500 more volunteers to reach their goal for the year.

They professionally screen possible mentors through in-depth interviews and background checks, Glymph says. Then, after in-depth interviews with the child and family, they make an appropriate match.

In 2013, the chapter matched and mentored 770 children. This year, they hope to mentor 800.

But that requires more volunteers and more donations.

"The economy took a huge hit in our donations, in 2009, when the economy crashed," Glymph said. "We went from more than $110,000 in pledges and donations down to less than $5,000."

Glymph says more than 1,000 children are on the waiting list for Central Georgia's chapter alone and more than half of them are boys.

"We need to recruit a lot more men and we need to recruit a lot more African-American men. There is a huge need in our community," Glymph says. "For people to say 'I will step up and be that role model for a boy. I may not have had that role model when I was young, but I can be that role model now.'"

She says the community, especially here in middle Georgia, needs that positive impact.

"Most of the children that we serve are at or below the poverty level. That is a huge high-risk factor for children in being successful in life," she said. "We also serve children whose parents are in prison, and 70% of them are more likely to go to prison themselves. We want to change that trajectory."

For more information on how to become a mentor, visit www.bbbsheartga.org or call 478-745-3984,


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