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Celebration of Service

The gift of confidence

IBM services leader in Canada helps teens on journey to manhood

“I grew up in a single parent home without a father around, but my mother knew how important it was for boys to have men in their lives,” says IBM territory services leader Dave Welling. “I was lucky that my grandfather filled that role for me. Others are not so lucky.”

Dave tells the story of working in his grandfather’s small grocery store as a young boy near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada and picking up life lessons. “My grandfather used to say that if people could give each other just one thing, that giving the gift of confidence would be enough to help create a better world,” he recalls. “That always stuck with me.”

In 2007, Dave realized he had come to a personal hurdle in helping mentor his godsons. The boys were facing challenges that Welling did not feel prepared enough to support. He says, “What I wanted to do was help them get on to the next steps in their journey to becoming better men…whatever that might mean to them.” Dave adds, “I realized that I needed help if I was going to help them.”

How will you show up in the world?

His search for an approach or organization included reading books about mentoring, taking part in various activities, talking to others, scouring the Web. “I spoke to the author of a book called ‘Man Making,’ and he pointed me to an organization called Boys to Men,” says Dave. “That was one year ago, and today I’m honored to be a volunteer and member of the board for the Boys to Men Canada, as well as an active mentor in the chapter here in Toronto.”

Not to be confused with the R&B singing group, Boys to Men or B2M is an international organization founded fifteen years ago in San Diego, California, United States with the mission to help boys become better men. As Dave says “we want to help them figure out how they will show up in the world…as a man who helps his community, who steps up and takes responsibility, who respects others and himself?”

B2M asks their adult volunteers to participate in training designed to have them reconnect with what it was like to be a teenage boy. As Dave explains, “In order to mentor a teenager you need to be authentic. A teenager’s radar for fakes is powerful.” Dave’s memories of growing up, plus B2M’s unique approach to mentoring that promotes reflective listening, now allow him to have more constructive conversations with teens and others.

The journeyman

Dave’s oldest godson decided B2M was the right approach for him, and chose to participate. “He transformed before my very eyes. He became so crystal clear about the kind of man he wants to be in the world. Since then he’s been volunteering, his confidence is growing, and now he’s set to finish grade 12.”

The journey also continues for Dave. He says, “B2M nurtures the boy in me, it speaks to the boy inside of me as a 49 year old man. It’s a connection of the heart and the head. We challenge each other about the kind of men we are, and the kind of men we still strive to be.” Welling is enthusiastic about recruiting a few volunteers from IBM to participate. “I guarantee you that all of them will have their hearts touched in some way.”

Fan of the On Demand Community

At fifteen years old, the B2M organization is also in its teenage years—while firmly grounded in its mission and approach it is still growing and building processes that will support it into adulthood. “As a professional, and as an IBM employee, I bring a set of tools that has allowed me to serve B2M on the board of directors, in addition to being a mentor,” says Dave.

IBM’s On Demand Community (ODC) has enabled him to contribute to the organization’s backbone. Using resources from ODC, a global community that combines the skills of over 174,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, training, and support, Welling helped B2M define the roles and responsibilities of its directors, develop a Web site strategy, and refine its approach to measuring program effectiveness, which earned B2M an IBM community grant.

Dave adds, “It’s amazing how IBM supports me to do this. There are not many companies out there who really walk the community service talk. That’s been profoundly moving for me.”

“I think my grandfather would be pleased with the path my godson and his great grandson is now taking to develop the confidence to help create a better world. I’m blessed to have played a role with B2M to help give him that gift.”

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.