The Union Recorder

Local News

April 23, 2014

Local man receives state mentoring award

MILLEDGEVILLE — Local resident LaVance Hurt is well known in the area for having a big heart, but recently that big heart earned him state recognition.

In February Hurt, 44, was awarded the 2014 Georgia Big Brother of the Year award for his mentoring work in Baldwin County. Although his recognition has received mention on local news broadcasts and in newspapers, Hurt is a humble man who intentionally shies away from the spotlight.

“When I mentor I don’t do it for publicity,” he said. “I do it because it’s my calling in life.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring organization for youth.

According to Hurt, he came in contact with the organization purely by accident.

“I got involved with it around three years ago when my cousin came to me wanting to get together to start a mentorship program here in Milledgeville,” he said.

Hurt, along with six other local men came together to create Brothers Bridging the Gap.

Once the mentoring group was created, the men got in contact with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia in Macon. The organization helped the men with their non-profit’s initial set up and provided them with young men in need of male guidance.

They taught the men how to set up interviews with the children to determine which big brother would be a good fit for which child.

“Many of these kids have been abandoned already. In mentoring we wanted to make sure each child had the right fit so they wouldn’t go through that same feeling of loss all over again,” Hurt said.

It was then that Hurt was set up with his little brother Rubin “RJ” Pyatt, 13. In Hurt’s eyes, Pyatt is an extension of his biological family.

“Since we were paired up I’ve noticed that he’s maturing and becoming more outspoken, and it’s nice to watch him go through these changes like watching one of my own grow.”

For Hurt, his biggest motivation in mentoring is keeping kids from making the same mistakes that he made in his youth.

Born and raised in Baldwin County, Hurt was the product of divorce.

He dropped out of high school in ninth grade. He spent his teenage years in and out of the juvenile system due to a substance abuse problem. Through guidance from  his mother and his grandparents, along with rehab centers and programs, he was able to overcome his addiction. He said his mother’s tough love, combined with the example his grandfather set for him helped propel him into a new chapter of his life.

“I don’t ever want to see a young male go through the suffering I went through. That’s why I’m a mentor.”

Since recovering from substance abuse, Hurt said he was ready to give back to the community that helped him. At age 21, he picked up where he left off in his education, acquiring his GED then continuing at Georgia College. He discovered that health care was his niche and in 1990 he procured employment as a staff nurse at Central State Hospital.

Hurt said he feels he was given the opportunity to turn his life around so that he could help other at-risk children.

“Positive role models and nurturing mentors are so important to any community,” he said.

Hurt said he believes strongly in mentoring. He said he often rides around with volunteer application packets ready for recruitment. He added that there is a great need for more male mentors in the area and he sees very large need in the local black community.

To become a mentor or for more information about Brothers Bridging the Gap or Big Brothers Big Sisters call 478-746-5436.


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