Soon-to-be graduate thankful for mentor that changed his life

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Dylon Martin is making plans for his future as graduation day gets closer. He's a senior at Van Horn in Independence and is hoping to major in music. 

"I don't think I'd be where I am today without him," Martin said of his mentor Rudy Summerville. 

Summerville and Martin were paired up more than a decade ago through a program now called "Inspire Friends" through the Independence School District Foundation.

"Pretty sure it was second grade," Martin remembered. "When I was a kid, I never really had a father figure or anyone to hang out with in that kind of way. I'm really thankful for someone coming into my life that I could spend time with." 

Martin was raised by his grandma since birth. She got him involved in the mentorship program in grade school.

"I met Dylon and Dylon met me, and we looked at each other and said hello, smiled and we said goodbye and that was the beginning and here we are now," said Summerville. "I had the opportunity to connect with this young man and it has been tremendous." 

The two have been meeting almost weekly either in person or over the phone, eating lunch together, playing games or just talking. 

"I believe for the youth of today it is important that you connect and you consistently get involved," said Summerville. "It's not a job, it's just our life. This is what we do." 

"Our personalities matched over time," said Martin. "We rub off on each other. He is calm. He's always collected. He's really polite." 

Now, Summerville is helping Martin apply to colleges to continue his journey in a positive way.

"Note this, I haven't had to go to the jail and get him out. I haven't had to run him out of no drug house. I haven't had no fathers calling me saying this young man is bothering my daughter. I've seen him reading, pushing for his academics, asking questions, soaking it in like a sponge," said Summerville. "Now here he is singing before the community, composing in the community, and getting ready to graduate."

Through the "Inspire Friends" program, volunteers are paired up with students. If you want to volunteer, you must complete a background check and receive District approval. For more information head to their website by clicking here.

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