TYLER - East Texas is filled with people who work tirelessly to make a difference in their community.
This month as people cheer on their favorite teams in the Olympics, CBS 19 is applauding others who are making a difference in their community, called Community Champions.
Kevin East, who serves as President of The Mentoring Alliance, is helping change kids' lives for the better.
It's a task that some might consider too much to handle but can have a big impact on a young person's life.
"When you realize it's just kind of saying, hey follow me...just inviting somebody down your path to follow you," East said.
The goal of the non-profit organization is to serve as a source of help and hope for all kids in East Texas and their families.
"Some of those people, great family, they just need a place for their child to go after school. Some of them, great family, they just need a place during the summertime for their kid to hangout and have a great time. Other families say you know what we need somebody involved with my child as a mentor to them."
In the five years since the program started, East said The Mentoring Alliance has grown significantly.
"As an organization, we've grown 300 percent in the last four years."
While the growth is certainly promising, it's taken some time to get here.
Back in 2013, when East was brought on, the organization only included The Boys and Girls Clubs of East Texas.
Under East's guidance, two more programs were added to the mix. They include Gospel Village and Rose City Summer Camps.
In 2015, the non-profit became The Mentoring Alliance.
"So, it's just been a whirlwind of just kind of more and more kids in our programs, but at the same time we're driven to serve more and more kids and families."
It's a whirlwind that now includes Boys and Girls Clubs in at least 17 different locations in East Texas, around 200 young mentees and hundreds of kids attending summer camps each year.
For East, helping kids in the community isn't just a passion, it's personal.
"As a foster parent, I sat in court representing our foster children and I would hear these stories...what I began to realize is there are so many painful scenarios that families are living in and oftentimes they just need somebody to love them and walk life with them."
That's why he said these programs are so important. East said they offer a safe space for kids to do better in school, interact with others and stay active.
"They don't need some sort of a handout. They don't need some sort of a new program. They just need people walking with them. As we walk with them, we're extremely blessed in the process."
East said the most rewarding part is watching the kids grow and he encourages others to get involved too.
"If they want to impact kids in a big way, in a voluntary way, after school hours, during the summer time, as a mentor on the weekends...we want to erase any excuses. If you want to impact kids, we can connect you."
To learn more about The Mentoring Alliance, visit their website.
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