LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — In high school, Jhash Sankar earned a scholarship, and little did he know he acquired a mentor also.
"I actually met him in person I remember it was in Park Vista's library," he said.
Sankar said he met his mentor Ike Powell when he was in 10th grade at Park Vista Community High School.
"He told me, 'Look, if you ever need anything, if you ever need someone to talk to, if you're struggling with anything, I'll always be there,'" he said.
Sankar said, at first, he was a bit skeptical. But his opinion quickly changed.
"Every Friday he would come and see me to lunch," Sankar said. "He would have lunch with me. So, from right then and there in the 10th grade on to me graduating, he was there every single Friday."
"I had a slight period where I transitioned out of corporate because of some downsizing," Powell said.
Powell said his wife suggested he give back, volunteer and do some mentoring. From that suggestion, he's been a mentor in some form or fashion for 18 years.
"I immediately went into the mindset of wanting to provide guidance and give advice, but I learned after a few years that it's not all about that," he said. "The biggest component of it is active listening and being there as a champion and supporter for that person you're mentoring."
Powell said it takes one person to make a difference in a child's life. Right now, the United Way's Mentor Center has a critical need. The organization said in Palm Beach County, over 1,000 kids are waiting to be matched with a mentor.
"The biggest part of that need is for male mentors," he said. "For male mentors, that looks like me and you."
According to the United Way, kids who spend time with a mentor are 46% less likely than their peers to start using drugs, 52% less likely to skip a day of school, and 55% more likely to enroll in college.
Sankar is a great example of that. He graduated from high school, went to college and has a job as a radiologist technician. He's thankful for Powell's guidance over the years.
"He's an absolute blessing," he said. "He made a big impact on me and if it wasn't for him and his guidance, along with my family's, I wouldn't be here."
For information on how to become a mentor, click here.