Helping young people is what makes Roger Turner tick. Over the last 25 years, Roger has impacted dozens of Atlanta-area students through his involvement in Cub Scouts, robotics clubs and — perhaps most notably — the Beyond School Walls mentorship program through Chamblee Charter High School and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA).
Roger, a 26-year Cox employee, is an area fleet manager and has worked most of his career in the fleet department and corporate services at Cox Enterprises. For many of those years he’s been a mentor through Cox-supported programs. “We work for a company that truly encourages and backs us in our community outreach,” he said.
Roger is especially passionate about mentoring young men who do not have a father present in their life. “I grew up without my father in my life and that encouraged me to mentor to young men who don’t have a father in theirs,” Roger said. “There was no one in my life who stepped in to take the role of a father, so that’s where part of my motivation comes from.”
He aims to teach his mentees about all the opportunities available, from college to military and alternative education options. “I especially like to tell student athletes who think they’ll play football, get a scholarship and be set that you don’t have to focus on one thing. Look at all the avenues available to you,” he said. “Have a backup plan. Think about your education.”
His most recent mentee, Nafis, wrote an essay about Roger’s advice to explore his options. “We kept on talking more about my dreams, ambitions, and the sacrifices that needed to take place. After a while he would tell me to have some other options — maybe college or military. I didn't really agree with that because my vision was just so tunneled. I would come to a realization that he wanted me to have options so I wouldn’t close myself from other opportunities,” Nafis wrote.
Roger describes his relationship with Nafis — and with mentees in the past — as an adult friend outside their peer group to whom they can talk to and confide in. “Sometimes kids aren’t comfortable talking to their parents, and a mentor can be someone who they can bounce ideas off and get insight,” he said.
The Beyond School Walls program is currently accepting new mentors for the 2019-2020 program. Learn more about how to get involved by attending the lunch and learn on June 5.
“People look at the program and think that’s not enough time to make a difference, but it is,” said Roger. “Even meeting twice a month for an hour can change a young person’s life. You can make an impact in a small amount of time and it will be rewarding.”