It wasn't too long ago Lorenzo McDonald was just like the young boys he now mentors.
The 19-year-old mentors the boys five days a week at Drew Elementary School in Northeast. He's one of several men involved in Life Pieces to Masterpieces, a year-long, arts-based after-school program supports African-American males ages 3-to-25.
The program helped Lorenzo deal with his emotions as a young boy.
He grew up in a rough section of Northeast in a single-family home with eight brothers and sisters.
“I didn't always have the family feel in my own home. But I felt that when I came here,” he says.
Now he's returned to the program to help other boys like someone once helped him.
“I’m making sure my community is a better place because these guys they could be with the drug dealers, addicts, and they can be affected by them negatively,” he says. “But I'm affecting them positively.”
While art plays a huge role in the program, academics and personal development is key.
“We say to young people your life may be pieces, may be good pieces, may be bad pieces, but whatever you have you have the power to change those pieces,” says Bill Pitts, director of programs and operations for Life Pieces to Masterpieces.
And Lorenzo did just that.
“He makes us smart and he makes our lives feel good,” says Erik Mille, a student.
In addition to mentoring, Lorenzo's greatest opportunity came in meeting President Obama.
“it was crazy,” he says. “I was lost for words. This is a black man in the White House. It's never happened before and I'm there.”
And Lorenzo has the same aspirations for all the young men who come through life pieces.
“I hope the boys can achieve their dreams,” he says. “And also be good people while they do it.”