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Mentors make difference with program

Debra Lambrecht

When Paul arrives in the third grade classroom, the teacher recognizes the calming affect Paul has over Kenny.

The two take their positions at the table near the window and start what may look like a routine tutoring session.

But Kenny’s teacher knows these meetings are much more than remedial, and that Kenny has found a true friend in his mentor, Paul.

Similar acts of compassion and caring are repeated every day in our community. Terry enjoys teaching guitar each week to a group of teens.

Mary listens to teens at Juvenile Hall where she volunteers to give haircuts. Marshalle visits art galleries, makes crafts and encourages her 17 year old friend in educational pursuits.

Linda gathers a group of teen girls each week for energetic discussions on everything from art to health to dating.

Norm Brown, President of the Kellogg Foundation has said, “The greatest need of young people today is not another program, but another loving, caring human being.”

At Caring About Kids we are grateful to the loving, caring mentors who have spent thousands of hours encouraging youth. These mentors give their time and hearts to young people offering kindness, love, appreciation, praise, and unconditional regard.

As the web of adult support for children has unraveled, the consequences are obvious. Mentoring not only directly benefits a child, it also re-weaves an important strand back into our community’s net of support.

We live in a time when we warn our children not to talk to strangers, and as adults we guard ourselves from being sued for our dealings with young people. Yet, the degree to which adults engage with youth has been identified as an indicator of community health. To foster this interaction, the Caring About Kids Mentor Program provides a structured environment making it safer and easier for mentoring activities.

We offer a variety of mentoring opportunities (one-to-one, group, long-term, time-limited) with a variety of youth (ages 3-20, from pre-school to court-school), and in a variety of settings (schools or youth centers).

Mentors who are drawn to the kids already in the juvenile justice system can volunteer at the Court or Community Schools.

Those who prefer academic mentoring can volunteer at the schools, and those who just want to spend time with kids volunteer at local youth centers, churches, or parks and recreation facilities.

The Caring About Kids approach helps to create a process that mentors, parents, kids and the community can trust.

According to a recent report, children engaged in positive adult mentoring relationships are 46 percent less likely to initiate drug use and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.

These children also demonstrate improved school performance and improving quality of relationships with their parents and peers.

Unlike the more traditional mentor programs, Caring About Kids has a unique recruitment strategy which only asks mentors for a five-hour initial commitment! Providing an easy, low-risk avenue to become involved has opened the door for hundreds of adults to volunteer, 92% of whom go far beyond the five hours, some of whom are giving as much as five hours a week! Regardless of how much time you can spend, we will find an opportunity for you to mentor a child. Mentoring is a fun and easy way to be a part of our community.

When asked why he appreciated his mentor, one eloquent 10 year old replied, “Cuz you’re here!” Ashley, age 17, tells us “I have to listen to my teacher, my probation officer, and my parents, but my mentor listens to me.”

Caring About Kids Mentor Program is funded by public grants and private donations, and provides services at no cost to mentors, youth or their families.

If you want to be a mentor or need a mentor, call Caring About Kids at (530) 889-2401, or (530)582-9970. Visit our website, http://www.caringaboutkids.org.

Debra Lambrecht is the founder and executive director of the Caring About Kids Mentor Program


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