Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Service group reaches out to teen boys

The Press-Enterprise

If entrepreneurs Daniel and Darrell Peeden get their way, and they usually do, everyone in Rialto will have a blue tongue.

The mayor would address the council with a blue tongue. Teachers would lecture with a blue tongue. Grocery checkers, auto mechanics, moms and their kids -- all blue.

These persuasive men are the executive directors of Sigma Beta Xi, a nonprofit service organization that mentors boys ages 13 to 18. And they are hoping that blue quickly turns into green.

The organization, through its Blue Operation, is asking customers at Coffee Nutzz stores in Rialto to "Energize a Dream" by purchasing a Xi energy drink. Owned by childhood friend Christian Carrazales, Coffee Nutzz will donate $1 from each drink purchased to Sigma Beta Xi.

Randomly, the Xi energy drink you order could turn your tongue an eye-popping shade of blue, and you win a $10 gift card to Coffee Nutzz.

"We wanted something cool, that kids would go for," Daniel Peeden said. "We're really trying to make our whole Blue Operation a recognizable brand."

Sigma Beta Xi evolved from a service club at Rialto High School in 1999. After graduating in 2000, the Peedens and some of their friends wanted the club to grow. In 2001, they incorporated and made it a nonprofit entity.

More than 1,000 boys have come through the program, Darrell Peeden said.

Through the business and community contacts they made in the organization, many of the boys have been hired locally.

Although they are not a fraternity, they respect the tenets of brotherhood and service fraternities offer.

What they don't have is the partying and the bad reputation that can follow some fraternities, Daniel Peeden said.

"In our minds, these young men will be the structure of our society, our families and our economy," Daniel Peeden said. "We want to help them achieve their goals. And when they get older, they give back to the group."

The boys meet almost daily at Rialto High and work on fundraising ideas, ways to donate and help the community, and special projects. They also participate in study groups to keep their grades up.

Their next project through Blue Operation is a Drive For Hope, where the group is sponsoring 40 young men from group homes in the area and providing them with a gift and a gathering at Coffee Nutzz.

Darrell Peeden emphasized that anyone can donate by purchasing a gift for a teenage boy and donating it to Sigma Beta Xi.

"We pride ourselves on our connections in the community," Daniel Peeden said. "We want to be that big brother or father figure and help these boys achieve their dreams."

Reach Cindy Martinez Rhodes at 909-806-3054 or crhodes@PE.com

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