The Record recently featured a piece on how North Jersey dads would be spending Father’s Day. While he isn’t a dad, Mike Sprague, a mentor in our Mentoring Youth program, is an outstanding role model for three young brothers. Read his inspiring story below and click here to read about some great dads.
Family: For almost two years, Sprague, 43, has been a father figure to the Conlon brothers: Michael, 9; Joseph, 8; and Luke, 7, of Teaneck, through the Mentoring Youth program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Their mother, Renee Conlon, says the boys' father has not been a part of their lives for about three years and she had been seeking a male role model for them, and "he's fabulous with the kids." Sprague is divorced and has no children of his own.
Profession: Senior insurance claims representative
Ideal day: Sprague is trying to expose the boys to activities he enjoys, such as hiking, nature festivals, baseball, playing with his dog and teaching them to ride bikes. But he says "it really doesn't matter what activity" the four do, he simply wants "just to hang out with them and make them happy. That's it. It makes me happy."
Ideal gift: "Something that they made." He treasures past gifts, a baseball cap with his name on it from Michael and a drawing of his car (complete with a dent in the correct place). And when they gave him a toy astronaut at the end of their first meeting, he glued it to the dashboard and they collectively decided that "this is going to be our navigator, to help us when we go out. … They call him Navigator Bob. A couple months later, they gave me another, Captain Cody. They're my GPS."
What he sees as his role in the boys' life: "To be a small part of trying to mold them into good kids: teaching them about sports and games, also providing some foundation for them to listen. I try and reinforce positive behavior and correct them when they do something wrong, teach them why it's not good."
Interview by Elisa Ung, The Record
For more information about Mentoring Youth, or to sign up for Fall Mentor classes, beginning Wednesday, September 26, call Eva at 201-489-9454, ext. 121.