Presidential pals

First Posted: 10/19/2011

WASHINGTON D.C. — Striking up a friendship with a child has made Colby Hammonds some friends in high places.

Hammonds, a Saddletree native and a major in the N.C. National Guard, recently met with Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden during a conference in Maryland.

“I had a great time,” Hammonds said. “It was an opportunity for me and my Little Brother to meet quite a few high ranking people.”

Hammonds was invited to meet with Biden because of his involvement with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Military Mentoring Program.

The visit was a part of a four-day conference led by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He also met U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and was re-united with his mentee Jordan and his mother Amy Pugh.

“I think what I’ll remember most is just the interaction with Jordan,” Hammonds said of the event. “I really enjoy watching young kids like that in a new situation and absorbing it all. … I enjoyed watching Jordan’s face throughout the entire process.”

His conversation with Biden centered around business, but also touched on basketball and the Washington Redskins.

“Dr. Biden was talking about a new program the White House is pushing where they are establishing about $20 million to go toward mentorship programs focusing on single parent military families,” Hammonds said.

Biden asked Hammonds about his service and talked to Jordan, who is the son of a single military mother.

“Jordan is 15 years old. A lot of these people, he had no idea what they did,” Hammonds said. “He did not really truly understand the significance of the event until we got there … Jordan was pretty much in awe of what was going on.”

At the conference, experts and researchers discussed juvenile justice, delinquency prevention and child victimization. Biden is noted for her involvement in children’s issues.

Hammonds has been a Big Brother since 2008. He had originally planned to mentor a child in the Triangle area, but was deployed to Iraq. When he returned and was assigned to National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., he stuck to the commitment and began mentoring Jordan.

“I just enjoy mentoring and helping others,” Hammonds said. “The Army National Guard, being a community-based organization, it’s very easy to be involved in what goes on in the community. It’s just an extension of what I’ve been doing in the Army National Guard.”

As a helicopter pilot, Hammonds is assigned to the 1st of the 130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion based in Morrisville. He has been in the National Guard for 22 years.

Hammonds, the son of Linda Hammonds and Ronald Hammonds, graduated from Magnolia High School in 1990.

Hammonds said he has watched Jordan grow during their time together.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Jordan is more sure of himself, a lot quicker to talk,” Hammonds said. “It’s clear to me that he’s more confident in who is he is as an individual.”

The two attended sporting events and hung out at Hammonds’ house about twice a month.

Hammonds said he hopes this experience helps others see the benefits for both the child and mentor in volunteering with an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It’s a great organization because it puts you one-on-one with individuals who volunteer to be mentored,” Hammonds said. “There must be willingness from both the parent and the child to actively take part in the process of being a mentor. They have a proven support system where they don’t just leave you out on your own to mentor a child.”

— Features Editor Amanda Munger can be reached at (910) 272-6144 or [email protected]

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