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Port Orange Observer Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 3 weeks ago

Ordinary Port Orange real estate agent provides extraordinary mentorship for fatherless teens

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Skip Simmons is co-founder of No Longer Fatherless, a non-profit dedicated to helping young boys without positive father figures in their lives.
by: Zach Fedewa Contributing Writer

On a bright and sunny Thursday morning in the Spruce Creek Fly-In, Skip Simmons and 13-year-old Liam went fishing — or that was the plan at least.

Following 20 minutes of no bites, Liam chose to leave his line in the water, and go to the creek where he wanted Simmons to help him build a bridge. After all, the point of the outing wasn't fishing.

Skip and Liam walk back after their morning of fishing. Although empty handed, they have full hearts

Simmons, a Port Orange real estate agent, spends his free time working as an "undercover life changer" through his own non-profit organization, No Longer Fatherless. 

“The type of activity is not important," Simmons said. "The time you invest in a young man’s life is what will impact his life forever."

Even though Liam was not interested in the intended activity anymore, Liam enjoyed spending time with Simmons. He didn't want to leave at the end of the day. 

Liam crosses the bridge that Skip helped him build in the creek

Simmons met Liam at the Meet and Mentor Community Learning Center in Port Orange 10 months ago when Simmons was teaching a 12-week program for the center's middle school boys on leadership, respect and choices. 

"Liam and I just connected during the program, and I knew that I wanted Liam to be apart of our first one to one mentoring program that began in 2018," Simmons said. 

Liam's father passed away in the military when he was 3 years old. 

Since then, they have been building a friendship by going on weekly outings to the park, movies, YMCA, going fishing and other activities to allow Simmons and Liam to spend some time together. 

"I just hope I can be a great role model for Liam, provide him with joy and memorable experiences each week while teaching him life lessons along the way," Simmons said.

Skip and Liam finish off their time together by trying to catch some fish

Seeing a change

Simmons is excited about his growing relationship with Liam, as well as how Liam has been progressing in school. 

“His administrator at school came to me in tears, telling me how impactful our time is together, and how he always talks about our activities together with his face all lit up," Simmons said. "A family friend said she could see the change in Liam, his confidence is blooming and his personality in flourishing."

No Longer Fatherless began after Simmons met Byron Clark at Thrive Church in Port Orange in 2016. 

Skip helps Liam gather wood in order to make a bridge across the creek

"We were two guys on separate paths with the same vision who met at the perfect time," Simmons said.

As they got to know each other, Simmons and Clark realized they had a mutual passion for helping young men without a positive father figure in their lives. Together, they created No Longer Fatherless to make a positive impact in fatherless boys.

Through the past two and a half years, they have impacted 15 boys, earned the 501c3 designation and partnered with multiple entities, including Volusia County Schools, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, and the Daytona Beach Police Department. The mission of No Longer Fatherless is to “Mentor, Equip, and Empower boys to become successful men.”

Chris Cardino speaks at the IMPACT meeting at Mellow Mushroom in Port Orange.

By the end of 2019, No Longer Fatherless plans to mentor 100 boys in the Volusia County area.

According to statistics from Mentor.org, children with a mentor are 78% more likely to volunteer on a regular basis. They are also 81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities, 46% less likely to use drugs and are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

Ashley Wilson, Miranda Mills, Seth Jones, Matt Norris, Skip Simmons, Chris Cardino, and Jessyca Hogan show support for No Longer Fatherless at Mellow Mushroom

Spreading the word

Recently, Simmons and No Longer Fatherless Board Member Chris Cardino spoke at an IMPACT meeting held at Mellow Mushroom. 

Skip Simmons presents at the Volusia County IMPACT meeting for medical professionals at Mellow Mushroom.

IMPACT is an organization for health professionals in Volusia County with a focus on networking and assisting kids in the community. Simmons and Cardino shared their organization's mission and success stories to help recruit mentors and raise funds to support No Longer Fatherless.

Simmons urged the crowd of medical professionals to help seek mentors in the community.

“There is no shortage of boys that need mentorship," Simmons said. "The hard part is finding enough mentors.”

For more information about No Longer Fatherless, visit nolongerfatherless.org.

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