In 2005, Rob Mitchell made a special trip to Santa Barbara from his home in Greensboro, N.C., to speak at several events and reach out to more than 150 at-risk youth.
Originally sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara to speak at the Kiwanis Praise Breakfast, Mitchell would only agree to the trip if the club would coordinate additional speaking engagements so he could tell his story to as many teenagers as could be assembled. During that three-day visit, he gave more than a dozen talks throughout Santa Barbara County.
When word got out earlier this year that Mitchell would be in Southern California to promote his new book, Castaway Kid, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara jumped on the opportunity to assist him in again having a positive impact on the lives of at-risk youth locally.
Mitchell made a four-hour drive on a recent Thursday to speak to 45 local men and women at a CBMC of Santa Barbara luncheon at the University Club of Santa Barbara. But his real motivation for the trip was the opportunity to once again speak to more than 60 young men at Los Prietos Boys Camp later in the day.
Mitchell can relate to at-risk youth since he spent 14 years in the system. At age 3, little Robby was placed in an orphanage by his mother. Fourteen years later, he found himself out of the orphanage and on his own. He not only survived, but finished college and eventually became a very successful financial adviser.
In traveling with Mitchell around Santa Barbara County three years ago, I realized this fellow was the “real deal” desiring to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth wherever God would allow him to speak. He also talked about his idea for a book on his life. With the help of Focus on the Family, that idea came to reality only last year and the book is already in its fifth printing! Mitchell’s story will certainly touch the heart of every reader and I’m certain it will leave an indelible impact on countless lives.
Upon arriving at Los Prietos Boys Camp a bit before 3 p.m., we were signed in and were escorted to the main dining hall as 60 boys marched in to hear his talk. All boys and staff members previously had received complimentary copies of Mitchell’s book. After speaking to the boys for nearly an hour, the boys were given an opportunity to ask their toughest questions. For the next half-hour, Mitchell deftly handled each question with respect and consideration. The boys stayed attentive throughout the meeting.
Mitchell also was given time to meet with each boy separately in their dorms. Even though those sessions only lasted for less than a minute each, it was obvious that the time taken to autograph their books and talk with them eye-to-eye made a dramatic impact on many of those young men, who are possibly only one slip away from County Jail. I truly believe some of those young men’s lives were re-directed onto the right path thanks totally to his message of “hope and forgiveness!”
Click here for more information on Rob Mitchell and Castaway Kid.
Jim Langley is a past president of Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara and chairman of CBMC of Santa Barbara.