RALEIGH (WTVD) --Federal funding cuts and slow donations are fueling a Raleigh man to make a case for your money and time to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle get out of a hole.
Kenneth Ferguson brought his wife of 10 years and their two young boys to our Raleigh newsroom to talk about it Wednesday.
In addition to working for a local safety department, the family man owns a photography business and runs a gluten-free and vegan cosmetics line with his wife. He says he's living a dream realized because someone mentored him through Big Brothers Big Sisters while he grew up in the Bay Area of California.
"I'm shooting for the stars," the 30-year-old told ABC11. "I owe my life to that organization. Everything that I've become successfully, with my kids, and with my family, and my businesses I owe to what I was taught by my big and by the organization."
Ferguson says he was suffering social and behavioral problems from spending time in and out of several foster homes when a principal at his school recommended BBBS. He was 10 years old when the nonprofit paired him with a young police officer in the city.
"He was a young guy in his 20s who helped me with my homework and was able to take me to places like bowling and pizza and things that I never had a chance to experience," said Ferguson.
The lessons from his big brother changed the trajectory of his life and encouraged him to enroll in and graduate from Liberty University.
"It made me feel like I was wanted," Ferguson said.
"If you've ever had a mentor, had someone touch your life, we need your support to help touch more children's lives," BBBS of the Triangle Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Breeden said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle currently has 250 kids on a waiting list for mentors, and recently had to eliminate seven positions because it lost $350,000 in federal funding the last two years.
Breeden says most of the children come from single-parent homes -- Ferguson's situation a worst-case -- and a mentor can change their lives.
"We reduce crime in our community. These kids that are involved with a big brother big sister, they are less likely to get involved in the juvenile justice system," Breeden said. "If we can keep these kids in school, get their education, and get them into a college or a trade school, that has a major impact in our community. That keeps them off the street and becoming productive citizens."
Ferguson splits his time volunteering with a leadership institute at Saint Augustine's University, working with youth with Durham's Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, and he speaks to kids who participate in BBBS. He says without local donations and volunteers, children who are just like he was will suffer.
"There are a lot of kids out there, just in the Triangle alone, who don't eat every night, who don't have someone there to help them with their homework, who don't have a person to come to their games," said Ferguson. "To a nonprofit organization anything helps, people's time, but monetary definitely to match a big with a little."
Click here to donate to BBBS of the Triangle.
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