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Mentoring, the United Way and you

I imagine most everyone has either seen or heard about the movie, “The Blind Side.”
It’s the uplifting story of Michael Oher, a young man whose mother’s drug use had resulted in him being placed in, and running away from, numerous foster homes. In the spirit of true Christian kindness, the Tuohy family invites Michael into their home and provides for him that which has been absent in his young life: love, acceptance, encouragement and stability. Michael plays high school football, then college football and, ultimately, is a first-round draft pick in the NFL. It was an amazing, feel-good movie and I, like many, left the theater energized about what an impact I possibly could have on a young man or young woman struggling to achieve his or her potential.
Yes, it was a great story. It would be wonderful if we could all open our homes to young people in need. But it’s just not possible. It is possible, however, to provide love, acceptance, encouragement and stability outside of inviting children to live with us. It’s called mentoring, and it can make an amazing difference in a young person’s life. Youth Services Bureau, a Rowan County United Way member agency, would love to match caring adults with young people in our community who need positive role models through our Times Two mentoring program. Whether it’s in a one-on-one relationship or group mentoring environment, your talents, skills and abilities are needed.
I realize that mentoring may not be for everyone, though I think most people vastly underestimate both the quality and quantity of skills they possess which could be shared with our young people. Fortunately, there is another way to help. Youth Services Bureau could not offer our Times Two mentoring program without the support of the Rowan County United Way.
Thanks to the generosity of contributors throughout Rowan County, we are able to design programming and activities through which the importance of education is emphasized, social skills are taught, modeled and practiced, and a connection with the community — through volunteer service projects — is established. The results are young people who become positive, contributing, law-abiding members of a community that has demonstrated its commitment to them.
We were commanded to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). I believe that obligation applies not only to the children within our own families, but to all children in our communities, our nation and our world. I urge you to consider becoming a mentor. I encourage you to give generously to the Rowan County United Way, which supports youth-serving agencies throughout this community. With your help, we CAN make a difference.

Karen South Jones is executive director of the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau, Inc. For more information on Times Two mentoring, call Andi Boylan at 704-633-5636 or andiboylan.x2@gmail.com.

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