The Coastal Star

Coastal Star: Mentor-student match becomes a tie that binds

Andy Bregman (l) with his mentee, Logan. Logan’s grades have improved to the point that next year he’ll be a freshman at Florida Atlantic University.  Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Rich Pollack

A lot has changed in the seven years since Highland Beach resident Andy Bregman first met Logan, then a budding flute player in middle school struggling to keep his grades up and his mischief down.    
“His music was great, but he had no academic focus whatsoever,” Bregman says. “He was getting into trouble here and there, but nothing ever bad.”
Bregman, who was assigned as Logan’s mentor by the Judith and Jack Rosenberg Mentoring 4 Kids Program, run by the Alpert Jewish Family and Children’s Service in West Palm Beach, saw something in Logan that others might have overlooked.
Despite the fact that the young man found himself in the principal’s office almost ever other day, Bregman saw potential in Logan and also saw a young man with moral roots passed on to him by his mother.
Since they met seven years ago, Logan’s grades have improved to the point that next year he’ll be a freshman at Florida Atlantic University, an achievement that didn’t seem likely just a few years ago.
And something else happened along the way. Logan and his mother, Nancy Shiroma, have developed a bond with Bregman that in many ways fills a void that was there since before Logan was born.
“In a way, we’ve become a family now,” Bregman says.
So much so that when one of Bregman’s daughters gets married in Indiana in a few months, Logan will be there to join in the celebration.
At family gatherings at the Bregman apartment, you’ll find both Logan and Nancy. The mentor and his young protégé are so close that hardly a day goes by when they don’t speak to one another by phone, even if it’s just a few words.
“I’m tremendously proud of Logan because he’s done this on his own,” Bregman said. “I just gave him guidance.”
Bregman, 62, and the father of two adult daughters, says he first mentored an 8-year-old boy while he lived in New Jersey and decided to become a mentor again when he moved to South Florida.
An announcement in the newspaper caught his eye and Bregman made a call to Karen Cohen, who runs the mentoring program at the Alpert Jewish Family and Children’s Service.
Established in 1998, the program serves children ages 6 to 14 who have lost a caregiver through death or divorce. Free and open to children of all faiths and ethnicities, the program is focused on providing mentors who offer friendship and support.
Bregman, who works for a nonprofit credit-counseling agency, said he was matched with Logan soon after he contacted the organization.
“Right from the beginning, I knew it was a good match,” Bregman said.
Over the years, Bregman says, his role as mentor has involved helping Logan’s mom cope with some of the challenges that come with raising a teenager on one’s own and at the same time helping Logan see things from her perspective.
Bregman will tell you that he’s more comfortable hanging out with the children at family gathering than the adults.
“I’ve always been kind of a Pied Piper,” he said. “When all the adults were inside, I was outside with the kids.”
Though Logan will officially age out of the mentoring program before he turns 19, Bregman says their friendship will continue for many more years.
Being Logan’s mentor, he says, has been an experience that has impacted his life as much as it has impacted Logan’s.
“It’s just a great rewarding experience to be part of a kid’s life,” he says.
Even with the changes of the last seven years, some things have remained the same.  
“In many ways, I still see the same kid, because his strong moral foundation has always been there,” Bregman said.

To learn more about the Mentoring 4 Kids program at the Alpert Jewish Family Service visit JFCSonline.com.

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