WSVN — Thirteen-year-old Brendon is having a good day, but that's not always the case.
Brendon: "I was here because me and my mother, we were having problems. We weren't getting along."
Seventeen-year-old Bernie's also had a tough life.
Bernie: "I was having a lot of trouble at home. I have a very abusive family and I have a lot of marks to prove it."
But Brendon and Bernie have found safe haven at Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services. It's an emergency shelter for kids who've been abused or abandoned.
Mary Andrews: "We have a total of 48 beds for young people who are picked up on the street very often by the police, children who are removed from their home because of violence."
The kids, ages 10 to 18, find safety here. They play and go to school get counseling. And perhaps most importantly, they're mentored by community volunteers.
Mary Andrews: "There's a lot of people that have had those problems."
Volunteer Alfred Karram founded the mentoring program.
Alfred Karram, Jr.: "These poor kids don't understand the word trust. Their hearts have been broken from their parents, their friends."
The mentors work with the kids at least once a week.
Brendon: "Anthony is my mentor. We've been talking almost like every day."
For some kids like Brendon, it's rare to have a positive adult role model in their lives.
Anthony: "Have you been working with the relationship with your mom? How's that going?"
Brendon: "It's made me feel better about myself because I have someone to talk to. I don't run away from all my problems."
The mentors teach life skills and let the kids know they're not alone.
Bernie: "I never thought I'd ever fit in anywhere but here I actually feel like I'm home."
And for the mentors, involvement in the program is a life-changing experience.
Alfred: "When I leave the shelter here and when I go back to work, I'm rejuvenated. I now have a new lease on life."
The kids are paired with a mentor the entire time they are at Miami Bridge.
When they leave, a mentor is found in the neighborhood where the child lives.
Alfred: "It's 100 percent important that the message the young person gets is that they're not abandoned, they are not alone and they are important."
Miami Bridge is in need of more mentors for the program. If you think you might be interested in giving your time, click on the links below.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Central CampusMiami Bridge Youth and Family Services, Inc.2810 N.W. South River DriveMiami, Florida 33125
Homestead Campus326 NW Third AvenueMiami, FL 33030