Mentoring programs help disadvantaged youth

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – It’s estimated that approximately 5,000 mentoring programs across the U.S. are providing guidance and support to about 3 million young Americans.

January is designated national “Mentoring Month” and today we look at how a local program is creating close connections and nurturing young lives.

Detective Larry Scates has focused much of his life serving others, first in the U.S. military and now at the Coconut Creek Police Department.

“I’ve been a member of this community since 1998 and I’ve always loved this community -- I’ve coached football in this community, my kids have grown up and gone to school in this community, and it was a great opportunity for me to be involved in the city,” Scates said.

In 2019, he became the first to join a new program created by Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Broward County called “Bigs In Blue,” which is the first national initiative designed to recruit local law enforcement to serve as mentors to youth in their local community.

For Scates, it was just another way of giving back that came at just the right time in his life.

“I have more time than I had before, (and) I have the resources to provide opportunities to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have those opportunities or an experience they haven’t had,” Scates said.

For the past four years, those experiences and opportunities have been shared with now 12-year-old Elijah.

“He makes me feel good and he’s the best big brother I ever had,” Elijah said.

Scates was recently named Big Brother of the Year in Broward.

The honor was bestowed upon him by Elijah.

“We’re both a work in progress so it doesn’t end there, but it is a nice acknowledgment and we’re a good pairing,” Scates said.

Elijah now wants to follow in Scates’ footsteps with plans to join the military.

“The Army made my big brother strong so I want to be strong like my big brother,” Elijah said.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Broward just launched “Road to 3,000″ with the goal of having 3,000 youth in the program by the end of 2023.

To learn more about the effort go to or call (954) 584-9990.

About the Authors:

Nicole Perez is the the primary co-anchor of Local 10 News at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. She first joined Local 10 in July 2016 as the morning traffic reporter.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.