January is National Mentoring Month, so it's only fitting that we recognize a man serving as a positive mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. Mike Lechuga sets a good example for his little brother, he is a leader in his church, education initiatives and the Hispanic community, just to name a few. That's why today we recognize Lechuga as this month's nominee for our Newschannel 6 Community Service Champion Award.
"He's really changed Jerry and he's been a big help. He mentors and looks up to him because of his Air Force background," Rosalinda Alba said.
Lechuga mentors Alba's 13-year-old son, Jerry, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
"I never had a mentor before me and Mr. Mike. I never had one," Jerry said.
Lechuga retired from the Air Force at Sheppard Air Force Base in 1998. One of Jerry's favorite things to do with Lechuga is to check out the jets. Whether it's hanging out just for fun, or focusing on school work, their time spent together is definitely making an impression.
"His grades and his attitude have improved," Rosalinda said.
"He shows me how to do it and concentrate. He does a lot for me," Jerry said.
Lechuga's hope is that Jerry will take what he's learned and pay it forward.
"He may be a mentor, a Big Brother one day. It's giving back to the community what it gives to us and I want him to give back long after I'm gone," Lechuga said.
It's clear Jerry looks up to him.
"I want to be like Mr. Mike when I grow up, but with more hair," Jerry said.
It's not just this Texoma teen Lechuga has touched.
"He inspires me. He inspires everyone," Alicia Perez said.
Lechuga has made such an impact on those around him, he was even awarded Hispanic Person of the Year last year. For many, like Perez, Lechuga is an inspiration in both a personal and professional way.
" I can go up on a bad day and ask for prayer and he will stop what he's doing and do that for me. So, to know him, and have that opportunity is amazing," Perez said.
Lechuga is active with the Coalition for Hispanic Education. He takes cookies to families visiting at the Allred Prison and teaches classes to the inmates there and at the Wichita County Jail. He even counsels our law enforcement officers. We also have to mention his countless hours volunteering at the Sonshine House distributing food or at his church, Edgemere Church of Christ.
"He is a hands on person. You hear people giving to charities or being involved and volunteering or serving on boards, that is all great, but he is hands on. He's out there and active," Perez said.
Lechuga said he's been given so much, he just wants to share his blessings with others.
"Instead of randomly, do these routinely to be kind to others because on day you will be in there spot and I hope someone is kind to me," Lechuga said.