PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Longtime WAVY-TV viewers may recall our “Wednesday’s Child” stories about children in need of mentors or adoptive families.
It is a feature we have aired, off and on, since 1981.
If you have ever wondered what happens to the children, well, here is another update for you.
WAVY News 10’s Don Roberts first featured a little boy named “Shaun” of Norfolk about 10 years ago. Shaun was nine at the time and a fourth-grader at Suburban Park Elementary. He and his other siblings were being raised by their grandmother.
Willie Moody first heard about Shaun in 2010 when a coworker raved to him about this cute kid in the “Team UP” mentoring program. Moody — a single man, Navy veteran, and music director at a local church — said he had always wanted to get involved, and this was his chance.
Well, after background checks and other preparation by the staff at Team UP, Moody was matched with Shaun in 2011.
SHAUN: “He’s a nice man…”
WILLIE: “It’s been, challenging…”
SHAUN: “We went bowling, to the movies, bounce-house…”
WILLIE: “He likes to run around and I’m a little bit up in age, so it takes a little bit more energy to keep up with him…”
That conversation was from 2011. Shaun is now a graduating senior at Granby High School. His opinion of Moody now? “Well, he’s basically like another father figure ’cause, my father’s in Louisiana. Having, basically, a ‘home daddy’ here is actually pretty wonderful.”
Moody is a smidgen grayer, his trademark braided hairstyle is still nice and tight, tied in a ponytail down his back. He still smiles broadly when talking about Shaun and some of their experiences.
“We had a visit to the USS Wisconsin [battleship] downtown Norfolk. That was a great opportunity because I used to be in the Navy. I served four years in the reserves. And that was an opportunity for Shaun to look at the Naval history.”
One of Shaun’s best memories is a more recent one.
“He took me and my grandmother to West Virginia to visit the college that I’m going to — which is a nine-hour drive there and back — and if I would have asked anybody else, nobody’s going to do that, but he is. And that’s what I’m thankful for, because, without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
One of the other people smiling just as much as Moody is the woman who helped keep the two together over the years, Mary Midgette of the UP Center’s Team UP mentoring program.
“This is a friendship for life. They don’t need Team UP mentoring anymore, they’re fine. That’s the beauty of this program… and, we have a lot of kids on our waiting list who need a chance like Shaun got a chance.”
Shaun has accepted a scholarship to that college in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Moody is in graduate school, hoping to soon earn his doctorate. Both say their friendship will continue on into the next chapters of their lives.
Mary says hundreds of children are now enrolled in Team UP, waiting for adults like Willie Moody, to volunteer. And, yes, Mary is helping the already-matched boy and girl teams, to have fun, even while sheltering in place. Virtual meeting rooms offered by programs like ZOOM make staying in touch a little easier.
You can learn more about mentoring by giving Mary Midgette a call at the UP Center, at 757-397-2121. Ask for “Team UP mentoring.” Or you can log on to their website theupcenter.org/get-involved/volunteer/.
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