Son of a Saint exists to transform the lives of fatherless boys through mentorship, emotional support, development of life skills, exposure to constructive experiences and formation of positive, lasting peer-to-peer relationships—all of which are vital mechanisms to enlighten and uplift young men in New Orleans. Our program includes: mentorship, postsecondary preparation, mental health services, case management, career development, academic enrichment, nutrition education, and travel, among other core elements.
Son of a Saint was born from the personal experience of founder Bivian “Sonny” Lee III, who lost his father, a former New Orleans Saints player, at the age of 3. Sonny had the support of a strong mother who prioritized education, therapy, travel, and community service. Still, he struggled with anger, confidence issues, and feelings of abandonment. As an adult, Sonny saw many fatherless boys struggling as he had. The difference: they lacked the sound support system he had been afforded as a child. With this understanding, Sonny founded Son of a Saint in 2011 with just $100 in the bank and a few volunteer mentors.
Each year, Son of a Saint selects a group of boys ages 10-12 to join the existing kids in our program. The boys must be fatherless due to their father's incarceration, death, deportation, abandonment, or adoption by a single mother. Currently, Son of a Saint is experiencing the highest level of mentee enrollment in our 12-year history, holistically serving over 200 boys. Each boy remains a Son of a Saint mentee until he is 18 and receives his college acceptance letter, and his connection remains into his young adulthood. Son of a Saint equips boys with the tools they need to become productive men. We give them hope, vision and opportunity. We provide a secure and consistent environment for them.
A recent program evaluation showed that our program is yielding measurable results. Our mentees are performing better than the average student in New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the U.S. as a whole. This includes a 100 percent high school graduation rate amongst our mentees, an 80 percent college enrollment rate, with the remainder pursuing gainful employment and career paths, as well as higher-than-average performance metrics on ACT scoring. Our young men also report that upon completion of their Son of a Saint mentee experience they feel highly motivated and better equipped to enter their future and achieve success. Since inception in 2011, Son of a Saint has graduated more than 30 young men who now serve as alumni to our organization and respected role models to our younger mentees.
Overall, Son of a Saint's most important role as an organization is simply to serve as a good example. The young men who enter our program are often boys in crisis, and a crisis is not solved without a sound strategy. Son of a Saint employs a holistic approach, using a network of volunteers and partner agencies that enables us to address every boy's every need. Son of a Saint provides mentorship to each boy in the form of individual mentors and group mentorship. Additionally, we facilitate educational, recreational, and experiential programming, as well as mental health services. Our organization also provides scholarships that allow nearly 40 Son of a Saint mentees to attend tuition-based schools in the area.
Son of a Saint provides a tangible and positive solution to solving the challenges in our community that can often feel insurmountable. We believe that each child is special, and has a pathway to success and fulfillment. It is our deepest calling to help them discover it.