RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Billy Lovely, 6, tosses a ball to his mentor, Doug Goodman, in Kaneohe. They participate in the Malama Pono Program, which provides adult mentors for children who have a parent or parents who are incarcerated.
A mentoring program supports children with incarcerated parents
Six-year-old Billy Lovely does not remember his father, who has been in and out of prison and rarely keeps in touch.
Mother Noni Irby said Billy needed a man he could look up to, someone to be a "positive role model."
Sign up to mentor a child
The Malama Pono Program, run by the nonprofit Honolulu Community Action Program, is recruiting volunteer mentors for children whose parents are incarcerated.
The program focuses on children from Hauula to Kaneohe but is expanding into the Waimanalo area. Mentors will be matched with children according to their interest and gender. Men in particular are needed, as there are more fathers incarcerated than mothers, according to CHAP.
Sign up on the Web site volunteerhawaii.org; click on "mentoring" or "Malama Pono." Contact for interviews will be made by HCAP. For more information, call Doug Goodman at 239-5754.
She found such a man early this year in Doug Goodman from the Malama Pono Program. Goodman also coordinates the mentoring program for the nonprofit Honolulu Community Action Program in the Windward District.
"It's been a blessing for us. ... It's made a big difference for him (Billy)," Irby said. "Doug is reliable, trustworthy and honest. Doug has children and a wife, and they've become an extended family. His consistency has made a huge impact."
Children who have mothers or fathers in prison often grow up missing out on the vital relationship of an adult they can trust and respect, said Goodman. They need someone to emulate to learn "positive behavior and interaction with the environment," he said.
Joan White, HCAP's executive director, said Malama Pono has been trying to fill the void of imprisoned parents for about 80 children from Hauula to Kaneohe the past three years. More men are needed to mentor children ages 3 to 18 because more fathers are incarcerated than mothers, she said.
HCAP plans to service some 300 children during the next three years with $300,000 in recently renewed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds. An ongoing recruiting effort soon will expand services to Kahaluu and Waimanalo, she said.
Goodman said he has seen Billy, a second-grader at Heeia Elementary School, gain trust in him since they started meeting weekly in January.
"A lot of (these) kids have trouble trusting. Relationships are usually negative and have been terminated," he said. "One of the things I really wanted to address was his confidence. The kids are very hesitant about everything. They crave attention and physical contact but are very hesitant to grab or touch others" or even an object, like a basketball.
Billy used to be tentative in kicking a soccer ball or putting someone in a wrestling hold, but he now "shows command of himself. He knows what he's capable of. He has less self-doubt," said Goodman, who often involves his two children in sports activities with Billy.
Billy, a shy boy with a radiant smile most of the time, said his favorite thing to do with "Uncle Doug" was to go swimming. With Goodman, the only adult male he interacts with regularly, Billy said he is now having more fun.
Goodman, who will soon complete his university degree to become a math teacher, said he can better relate to kids like Billy because his own father was incarcerated for almost two years.
His dad never graduated from high school and was into drugs: "We were at the bottom of the barrel ... but he straightened out, got a job and kept it," Goodman said. "By the time I was in the ninth grade, we had made our way up. Because of that, I know it can be done."
"I'm very honest and straightforward with him (Billy)," he said, and that includes talks about how the world works and what he is up against.
Kimo Young, a cook at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Officers Club, said he get blessings from mentoring a sixth-grader who once lived out of a car with his mother.
Among those blessings: "Him having a good time, smiling. He calls me 'Uncle' and looks forward to being together. I go to watch his football games. It's a very simple thing for me, being there for a boy in need. ... I love it," Young said.