Thank you, Times 2 mentors — more are needed
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 19, 2007
By Liz Tennent
For The Salisbury Post
Jack is a 15-year-old student enrolled at a local high school. He hasn’t seen his dad in several years and his mom works full-time on second shift. He has passing grades but just barely. He likes cars and mechanics and girls but isn’t sure about his future. His mom is afraid he might be involved in a local gang. He says no. He was caught “safeguarding drugs for a friend,” went to juvenile court and is now on probation.
Stephanie is 11 and her brother is 13. They both attend school and make pretty good grades. But after escaping domestic violence in another state, Stephanie’s mom moved to Rowan County. She wants her kids to have a better and safer life. The kids are having behavior problems at school and at home while she struggles to make ends meet.
Joey is 10 and a repeat offender in the juvenile justice system.
Kelly is 14, skips school, misses curfew and has little respect for authority.
Although their names have been changed, these are real local youth, who are from different families but who share some of the same problems and frustrations. Each of them is on the waiting list for a one-on-one volunteer mentor with the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau (RCYSB).
As the program director of the RCYSB Times 2 Mentoring program, I share their frustration. These youth are not alone. Our current waiting list is 23 youth, but the waiting list of adult mentors ready for placement is only two. Adult mentors currently matched with youth total 17.
January is a time for celebrating and thanking and recruiting. On a national level, Quincy Jones will be receiving the first-ever Mentor of the Year award. If you visit www.WhoMentoredYou.com, you can read his story and other celebrity stories about how mentoring makes a difference.
Although I appreciate the national campaign and the celebrities for their contributions and for being mentoring champions, I tend to look closer to home for “celebrities” and “champions” who really inspire me. None of the mentors would use such words to describe themselves but I do — and I know 17 young people (and their families) who do, too.
Thank you to our Times 2 one-on-one volunteer mentors: Joe Trainor, Judy Rochelle, Todd Hildebran, Rob and Kara Bean, Sugar Williams, Janet Steele, Richard Quattlander, Robert Lowe, Janice Sanders, Justin Parker, Renee Turman, Terry Moore and Ruth Chaparro.
So where does that leave us with the Times 2 waiting list? Well, those youth are still waiting — and more will come. The impact on them and our community is significant. Think about our school dropout rate or our crime rate or a host of other risk factors.
So how long will they have to wait? Help us find the answer. Why not start by asking yourself the question: Who mentored me? A teacher? A coach or neighbor? A family member or friend? When you’re finished, you might just want to pass it on through mentoring someone else. And who knows? We might just end up with a waiting list of adult mentors rather than a waiting list of youth. And that would really be something to celebrate!
Times 2 Mentoring is a program of the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau and is funded by the United Way of Rowan County and the Governor’s One-on-One Volunteer program of the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. The program serves at-risk youth between the ages of 7 – 17. Volunteer mentors must be at least 18 years old, complete an application, background check and in-house training. A valid driver’s license and four references are also required.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer mentor, contact Liz Tennent, program director of the Times 2 Mentoring Program, at 704-633-5636 or email her at Liz@RowanYSB.com.
If you have your own mentoring story to share, email it to Liz@RowanYSB.com.