Dan De Nose’10 answered the call for black men who could be positive role models to the boys served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union counties. According to an article in The Star Ledger, the agency cannot always guarantee a black man would be available as a mentor, “even though its percentage of black male mentors is three times better than the national average.” De Nose, who is featured in the article, has made a significant difference in the life of his “little brother.”
“Since De Nose came into his life eight months ago, Kyhron takes school more seriously. He’s working on his grades, doing the homework and paying attention. The two spend lots of time together, way more than the requirement of one hour a week. They go to movies, sporting events or sometimes they just sit and talk,” the article notes.
While a student, De Nose was a Student Trustee on the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees, a Bonner Leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, founder of the Leaders of Tomorrow theme house, and a member of the Leadership Certificate Program. He was a member of the Hobartones, Chorale, and Cantori singing groups. He also worked as an intern in the Office of Admissions.
The full article follows.
The Star Ledger
Carter: Lack of black males leads to struggle within urban Big Brother programs
Barry Carter • The Star-Ledger • December 1, 2011
NEWARK – Kyhron Howard didn’t see the point at first.
Why in the world would he need a big brother? He already had one.
His mother, Leslie Satterfield knew better. Kyhron, 15, was struggling in school, and even he admits to being a “knucklehead” about not doing homework.
Satterfield, however, wasn’t looking for just any positive role when she called Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union counties.
She wanted a black man to mentor her son.
The Newark agency couldn’t guarantee that, even though its percentage of black male mentors is three times better than the national average.
Executive Director Carlos Lejnieks says the goal is to have a responsible adult in the life of every child, but he does understand the impact a man of color can have on child living in communities like Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth.
He says his staff works hard at screening to find the best possible match for a little brother or sister. They don’t want to just throw two people together and hope for the best. That’s why they’re on the phone on weekends, sometimes holidays, doing whatever it takes to land someone like Dan Denose.
He’s 23, a professional, and he happens to be black. Satterfield uncrossed her fingers when the agency called in March.
Denose is now the one person, other than Satterfield, who can tell Kyhron there’s a world beyond his Newark neighborhood – and that he has a place in it.
It’s kind of hard for Satterfield to give Kyhron that kind of attention raising six kids. She has two foster children and four adopted kids, including Kyhron and his three sisters.
“I wanted someone who could be there for him, someone to spend one-on-one time,” she says. “You’re just hoping they can put him in touch with someone who is meeting people and going places.”
Getting men of color to participate is tough, an unfortunate reality the organization’s national office is trying to change for its 370 affiliates. Officials say there is big push to get such men because 14 percent of all mentors are black compared with 38 percent of black boys waiting for them to step up.
“Our staff will jump up and down, especially because it’s a man,” Lejnieks says. “The biggest challenges we face as a society are looking at the stats of our young men of color.”
Denose and Kyhron hit it off from the beginning.
Kyhron could relate to his new big brother, feeling like he had someone to understand him.
“It was so natural when we first met,” he says. “It’s like we’re the same person.”
In Kyhron, Denose says he sees a lot of himself. Kyhron is a little brother with potential who needs a nudge in the right direction. Ten years ago, that’s what the Newark Boys Chorus School did for him when he was a student there. The school told his parents about a leadership camp, where the director saw that 11 year-old Denose had character he wasn’t showing at school.
Denose fought, his grades were bad, his name always to seemed to surface as a behavior problem. The street he lived on, Isabella Avenue, had its problems with crime and drugs.
Denose says he knew at an early age that he could be a juvenile delinquent heading nowhere unless he took the camp director up on an offer that would change his life.
“He said ‘How would you feel moving out of Newark?’ ” Denose remembers. “I was mature for my age, and I knew I need more discipline.”
The youngest of seven children, Denose agreed to leave Newark to live with a white host family in Geneva, N.Y., believing this was something he had to do.
“My family came from Haiti to America for the whole American dream to benefit their children, so that we can have somewhat of a better life,” he says.
Denose lived in Geneva for 10 years, graduating high school and then college with a liberal arts education that landed him a job as an aide with Newark Mayor Cory Booker. He was laid off from that position, but he now works at Prudential.
Denose didn’t have to come back to Newark, but he felt a need to return last year so he could give back to a young person like Kyhron.
“Newark is what sent me to Geneva,” he says. “Now Geneva is what sent me back home.”
His family is here, plus he believes everything happens for a reason. The family in Geneva became his family, teachers in high school were his mentors. The college interview panel gave him a chance to be a student so he could get the education his parents wanted for him.
“When I examine and dissect my life, everything has been written,” he says. “What are the chances of Kyhron’s life and my life meeting? We didn’t do anything at all to deserve this. And because it’s been given to us, I have to give back.”
Since Denose came into his life eight months ago, Kyhron takes school more seriously. He’s working on his grades, doing the homework and paying attention. The two spend lots of time together, way more than the requirement of one hour a week. They go to movies, sporting events or sometimes they just sit and talk.
They were recently featured in a web series called “Start Something,” a campaign sponsored by the national Big Brothers Big Sisters. With stories like theirs and other kids from Newark, the organization hopes people will donate time and money to keep its mentoring program out front.
Kyhron says he can see why his mother wanted someone in his life. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to go far away like Denose to find that person.
His big brother is right here in his backyard.
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