Some UAlbany students are recognized nationally, for their efforts to mentor at risk youth in the Capitol Region. Our Erin Connolly has more on this heartwarming story.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Growing up in the Bronx was tough for UAlbany Senior Joel Livingston.
He struggled in school and he struggled at home.
Joel Livingston said, ''My dad was deported when I was seven years old and I never really had a close relationship with him. I'd speak to him once or twice a year.''
But Livingston decided to turn a negative into a positive. In 2009, he founded the UAlbany student group, "Reclassifying All Children Equally Organization", otherwise known as R.A.C.E.
The group partners with "Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Capitol Region" to help mentor at risk youths in the area. Livingston mentors six children and sees them each and every day.
Livingston said, ''Although I've only been mentoring them for one or two years, I feel like I've known them my whole life because I see so much of self in them.''
And on Sunday in Hartford Connecticut, Livingston was recognized for his efforts in a national contest. R.A.C.E. came in third place in the Newman's Own Foundation Campus Community Service Challenge. The more than 75 members of this social change organization, were awarded a grant of $10,000.
Livingston said, ''It feels really good because right now the school only provides us with 250 so this is a big difference.''
Livingston says the money will be used to continue offering adult mentors to children in the community.
Livingston said, ''I feel like I've made a big difference. Some of the students who I work with they're taking baby steps but they've made changes when it comes to their school work and making better decisions.''
Up next for Livingston. He'll graduate from UAlbany this spring, then he's off to Columbia University where he plans to get a masters degree in social work. He spent most of his life without a father, but now Livingston wants to spend the rest of his life as a father figure to others.
This is the second consecutive year a UAlbany student group has been a finalist in this challenge. The group "Third World Impact" won the top prize last year, for its efforts to build a primary school for more than 500 students in Uganda.