Youth Leadership Exchange (YLX), Leadership Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Realtor Michael Biddinger has been a Youth Leadership Exchange mentor for more than 15 years, making a lasting impact on more than 20 young men from all over Oklahoma City.
Youth Leadership Exchange is the high-school-age programming arm of Leadership Oklahoma City and seeks to empower central Oklahoma youth to become leaders who have a positive influence in their communities.
The program has many students who could not participate without transportation. Biddinger not only mentors, but also offers to drive students to and from Youth Leadership Exchange activities.
“Michael is one of the first to volunteer and has driven north, south, east and west to ensure each of these young men are able to participate in the leadership programs,” said Amber Shelton, program director, noting that the conversations in the car yield some of the most impactful mentoring lessons. “The young men always come up to us and say, ‘Mr. Biddinger is so cool!’"
Leadership OKC Executive Director Beth Shortt praised Biddinger for looking for innovative ways to enhance his mentees’ lives, far beyond the usual commitment of both effort and time. “Michael keeps up with his mentees after his formal assignment,” she said. “He reaches out to them without waiting to be contacted. He’s recommended them for jobs, hired them himself, attended their weddings and baby showers, and remained available to them to this day.”
Biddinger is currently matched to Oscar, 17, a student at Western Heights High School. The two share a love for people and serving the community. “Michael is a great example of the kind of community leader Oscar strives to be,” Shelton said.
About the Program: Youth Leadership Exchange is the high-school-age programming arm of Leadership Oklahoma City. Its mission is to empower central Oklahoma youth to become leaders who have a positive influence in their communities. Students complete the program by participating in monthly classes and volunteer service.