January is National Mentoring Month! Helping Services for Youth & Families is celebrating mentoring friendships and inviting others to engage in their community with the theme ‘Take ONE step to build a friendship. Become a mentor!’
Mentoring has a positive impact on youth. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships bring about powerful and positive changes in youth. Mentored youth have a greater chance of avoiding negative influences, such as substance abuse, bullying, or dropping out of school. One in three youth grows up without this critical asset.
During these times of quarantining, isolation, and masking up, mentored youth and their mentors have become very creative at ‘getting together.’ Some mentors and mentees don’t feel comfortable getting together in-person due to high rates of infection so they are being pen-pals, visiting on the phone, playing games via virtual video, etc. Some mentors and mentees are meeting in-person wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing. Each mentor, mentee, and family member’s wishes are supported as each individual’s safety and well-being is a top priority.
The need for positive role models is vital as families deal with the stress of unemployment, cut-backs, isolation, and lack of social activities. There are area youth that want a friend to hang out with. One of those kids is Keith. He is eight years old and likes to bike, be outside, and swim. He wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
Volunteer mentors do not do this alone. Colinne McCann, Mentoring Coordinator at Helping Services shares, “We provide you with the tools and training you need to be successful. We share activity ideas and provide fun and safe events, making it a simple process to mentor.”
There are many exciting opportunities during the month to celebrate. Proclamations are being signed with the County Boards of Supervisors on Monday, January 4 at 9:30 a.m. in Winneshiek County, 10:30 a.m. in Allamakee County, and 1:15 p.m. in Delaware County. Howard County’s proclamation signing will take place on Monday, January 11 at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend.
A Tasty Thursday event will take place on January 14 at The Landing in Decorah from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Everyone that is interested in finding out more about what is involved in mentoring can attend. Mentors and mentees are also invited. Ice cream treats will be donated by Sugar Bowl.
A group event will take place at the Cresco Fitness Center on January 16. Mentors, mentees, Mentors For A Day, and waiting youth are invited to attend. If you would like to volunteer, contact Colinne or Kathy.
On January 19, a virtual training, Pass on Grass: The Dangers and Trends of Marijuana will be available via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85772896756. Those wanting to participate are encouraged to pre-register at https://bit.ly/PassonGrass21Registration. By registering ahead of time, attendees will receive additional resources.
Individuals, couples, and families can mentor a youth. Be the ONE who makes a difference. Become a mentor! Visit www.helpingservices.org/mentoring for more information, or contact Youth Mentoring at (563) 387-1720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.