Agustin “Gus” Ramirez was recently awarded the first Mendy Stone Mentor Award from Rogers County Volunteers for Youth. The award was presented at the 6th annual “Chair-ity” Auction. This year’s event and sponsorships brought in nearly $20,000 for the PAL Mentoring Program of Volunteers for Youth.

According to the award presenter, Mendy Stone, Ramirez is the type of volunteer that any agency would pray for and even the “Chair-ity” Auction fundraiser was his idea.

“Gus is a young at heart, active retiree that has cheerfully participated in every facet of our agency. While serving on our board he provided inspiration and motivation to fellow board members and never missed an opportunity to encourage me and our staff. He attended board training opportunities even when travel and overnight stays were necessary,” said Stone.

Ramirez has mentored many young men since joining the organization in 2009 and most of the time it’s been with multiple mentees at once.

“I believe that every single person has value and our job as mentors is to bring that value to the surface and teach the mentee to recognize the value within themselves,” said Ramirez.

No job has ever been too big or small during the time Ramirez has volunteered with the organization. Twice he practiced tirelessly to represent Volunteers for Youth in the local Dancing with the Stars event. He watched the gate, took tickets and served popcorn at the Green Country All Stars Games. He filmed a special on mentoring for RSU Television. And for several years he has faithfully golfed 100 holes in the July heat as a participant in the Smokin’ Hot 100 Golf Marathon.

Ramirez has also taught ESL classes and led group tutoring sessions at Claremore High School. He even developed a presentation called SUCCESS COMES IN CANS (not in Can Nots) for the U-Turn Academy and was the keynote at U-Turn family nights on several occasions.

“All of my mentees have been special young men and will hold places in my heart but one huge success story really stands out,” said Ramirez. “This particular young man was on a path that was leading him to a life full of failures, trouble with the law, and no education to speak of. When I was first assigned to him I realized that he had to appear in court every other Friday for violations. I decided to attend his court sessions and the judge came to expect my presence. I informed this young man that failure was not an option with me and that I was not concerned with his past. I was concerned with this day forward. I made it clear that I could see a tremendous worth in him and that together we were going to turn his life around. In short after being told that he would never graduate from high school and would probably end up in prison, I was determined to prove everybody wrong. His last block was a straight A performance and he graduated on time. His transformation was a result of his mom, grandparents, judge, and especially me believing that he was worth saving. He is my pride and joy and a testimonial that all of the at risk students we mentor are worth it,” said Ramirez.

The PAL Mentoring Program needs additional volunteers. To find out more please contact Celina Davis at 918-343-2530 or visit the organization’s Facebook page or website at www.volunteersforyouth.com