By Rachel Wion
Mentoring saves the lives of children, keeps them out of trouble and gives them direction. Police officer Carlos R. Austin knows and is paying it forward.
Carlos experienced this as a young boy in New York City when Air Force veteran Bruce Velsor became his mentor and turned his life around. He is currently paying it forward by mentori
ng children as the Police Explorer Senior Advisor with the Miami Gardens Police Department in Florida, and has just come on board as the Law
Enforcement Liaison to Adopt A Cop USA’s mentoring program.
“Without my mentor Bruce, I would have ended up either in prison, dead, or still at home doing very little to nothing,” Carlos explains as he talks about his life growing up with a single parent. His mother worked two jobs to support the family and make sure he had the education he needed, but left him mostly unsupervised and getting into all sorts of trouble. He met his mentor in a career placement program. It turned his life around because he did not want to disappoint the man who trusted him. “God bless his heart, Bruce saved my life! When I go back home to visit, I still see some of my high school buddies hanging around doing some of the same things we did as teenagers. There were a lot of drugs around when we were growing up, and some of them had no reason to do anything with their lives. I had a reason.”
Because of the influence of his mentor, Carlos joined the U.S. Marines. He wanted to serve others as his mentor had done, so he started mentoring middle to high school age youth in a program called The Westover Young Marines. When he moved on to law enforcement, it was only natural that he became a part of the Police Explorers mentoring program.
When Carlos discovered Adopt A Cop USA, which partners law enforcement officers as mentors with 4th graders in collaboration with the local Boys & Girls Club chapters, he was excited about the potential of starting earlier in children’s lives. “Wow! I want to be involved in that,” he said. “That’s something that will work!”
He sees the greatest benefit of officers mentoring younger children as spending time with them and showing them the good side of the police. “We interact with them in a positive manner so they don’t grow up seeing us as the bad guys,” Carlos said. He loves being a part of the lives of the youth he mentors. Seeing their accomplishments and being a father figure where one is often nonexistent is very special to him.
“I tell the kids to do the right thing even when no one is watching,” Carlos describes his motto and approach to motivating the youth he mentors. “It gives them a reason to stay out of trouble and it’s my way of paying it forward.”
Adopt A Cop USA is developing in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. AAC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on Bridging the Gap between Community and Law Enforcement, One Child at a Time. By pairing front line police officers to mentor at risk children, the organization supports the relationship between the two in a way unseen through any government programs. Adopt A Cop USA reduces community violence and helps law enforcement to be more productive and compassionate for generations to come. The organization operates solely on individual contributions and public support.
Please consider contributing to our efforts to create safer communities across the USA by visiting our website at www.adoptacopusa.org. Contact Sgt. Frank Danysh at 954-263-8270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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