A child can never have too many caring adults in his or her life.
Grand Area Mentoring matches grownups with children who could benefit from having another adult friend – a relationship that benefits both, said Karen Schlom, who has been a mentor since she retired two years ago.
“It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done,” Schlom said. “It’s really rewarding to be with the kids. We all need mentors.”
January is National Mentoring Month, and Thursday, Jan. 19, is “National Thank Your Mentor Day” – which is simply an excuse to reach out and thank mentors of all types, including those in your own life, Grand Area Mentoring Program Director Daniel McNeil said.
It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of Moab’s need for mentors. Seventeen children are currently on the waiting list to be matched with a mentor through Grand Area Mentoring.
The nonprofit organization currently supports 65 matches. Mentors meet with their mentees weekly, for an hour to play, hang out, do crafts or some other beneficial activity. Kids range from kindergarten to high school age, and include both boys and girls.
Teachers, principals, counselors, parents – and even kids themselves – recommend children to Grand Area Mentoring, McNeil said. The program is completely voluntary and kids must want to participate, he said.
A training to become a mentor will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Helen M. Knight Elementary School, 505 N. Mivida Drive.
“A training is an opportunity to find out more – there’s no obligation,” McNeil said. “It has to be a good fit.”
McNeil will lead the training, along with his colleague and mentor coordinator Megan McGee. After January, the next training will most likely take place at the start of the 2017 fall school year, he said.
Prospective mentors should like kids, be dependable and “really care about making a difference. We ask for a year (minimum) commitment,” McNeil said.
Mentors typically volunteer longer, for an average of two-and-a-half to three years, McNeil said.
“The longer matches get better results; they’re more powerful for the kids,” he said.
“It truly is a commitment,” Schlom said. “It’s really important to have a mentor that the kids can count on.”
Schlom mentors three children, whom she spends time with individually. They go to the park, work on art projects together and walk to Back of Beyond Books. Owner Andy Nettell donates books to mentees via the Books for Mentees program.
“Some of these kids don’t have books at home,” Schlom said. “We read the books (and) talk about them.”
Research shows that mentored youth are more likely to do better in school and are better equipped to make responsible decisions, according to the mentoring organization’s website.
Learn how to become a mentor this month
“It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done … it’s really rewarding to be with the kids. We all need mentors.”
When: Mentor training on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Helen M. Knight Elementary School, 505 N. Mivida Drive
Information: 435-260-9646; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.grandmentoring.org.
To register for the training, call 435-260-9646,or email email@example.com. For more information about Grand Area Mentoring, go to: www.grandmentoring.org.