Education is Freedom.
Bivian Lee, Jr., was an NFL defensive back for the New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1975. Tragically, in 1984 Bivian died at the young age of 36 after suffering a heart attack. He left behind a wife, a five-year-old daughter, Tamica, and a three-year-old son, Bivian “Sonny” Lee, III.
As an adult, Sonny came to understand the struggles and challenges his mother faced and gained a real appreciation for the opportunities he was afforded as a child. These opportunities awarded Sonny things that the average boy in New Orleans would not have access to. One of the most important of these opportunities was through psychiatric counseling to address the anger issues left behind by the death of his father. Sonny also had an incredible athletic ability and was able to build long-lasting relationships with teammates and coaches. Sonny was convinced that the array of opportunities made him who he is today. The more mature Sonny became, the more he realized he had to give back to the community that nurtured him as a child.
Son of a Saint was founded on January 1, 2011, in honor of the late Bivian, and Sonny's single mother. The goal was to “pay it forward” and replicate his own experience for a special group of fatherless boys in New Orleans.
Son of a Saint equips participants with the tools they need to become productive men, offers hope, vision and opportunity, and provides a secure and consistent environment for boys to grow and be mentored in.
Each year, Son of a Saint selects a group of boys between the ages of 10-13 to join the existing members of the program. The boys must be father-less due to incarceration, abandonment, or death. Each participant remains a member of Son of a Saint until he is 18 and has received a college acceptance letter. Participants must also maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA, complete four hours of community service each month and maintain good conduct at home, school and within the Son of a Saint organization.
Participants in Son of a Saint are often in crisis,one often met without guidance, and alone solved without a sound strategy. Son of a Saint works to step in at this crucial time to re-direct the path of these young men to change the outcome of what initially seemed to be a bleak situation.
Participants are exposed to a variety of new activities, like horseback riding, fishing, yoga, music, chess, the arts and more. Every boy participates in at least one of these activities weekly, and mentors also support and encourage our boys in their extracurricular activities by attending games and school events. The boys also have a "clubhouse" to go after-school programs, this video shows Sonny talking about the clubhouse opening and enrollment back in 2014.
The organization facilitates scholarships allowing Son of a Saint members to attend tuition-based schools in the area, and employs a holistic approach, using a network of volunteers and partner agencies that enables us to address every boy’s every need.
Life for boys who lose their fathers early on is an uphill battle involving challenges linked to self-confidence, anger and feelings of abandonment. When left unaddressed, these challenges manifest in unhealthy behaviors during early childhood, increase in teenage years, and last throughout lifetimes. There is a need that cannot be ignored.
Son of a Saint is a necessary intervention program that intercedes at a delicate time, and is a wellspring of positive influence when it’s needed most in the development of a boy to man. Young members forge lasting relationships with volunteer mentors, counselors and tutors that only develop and grow over time, and continue to provide consistent support, guidance and encouragement even after a participant has completed the program.