Mentor One, Change Two

Megan, a JHS mentee says, “I can’t wait to see my mentor because my mentor is awesome.”

Mentor Nancy Deyo says, “Chatting with my mentee is the highlight of my week.”

Mentor Kathy Bemus adds, “It has been amazing to see my mentee become more self-confident and to see her smile and happiness in obtaining much improved grades.”

January is National Mentoring Month, and this celebration, held each January, provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor the importance of quality mentoring programs and the role that current mentors fill while also recruiting new supporters and volunteers.

President Barack Obama has annually recognized January as National Mentoring Month. In his 2013 presidential proclamation, Obama noted, “Our American family is bound together by caring individuals who make it their mission to serve others. During National Mentoring Month, we pay special tribute to the men and women who enrich the lives of our young people and fortify the unbreakable bonds between one generation and the next.”

Mentors, backed by a quality, mentoring program, play a powerful role by promoting healthy relationships, reducing negative behavior, helping students set goals and preparing for life after graduation. Mentors help build young people’s character and confidence, expand their universe, and help them navigate pathways to successful adulthood.

Quality mentoring programs provide a shared opportunity for learning and growth. In fact, many mentors say that they are surprised and grateful for the experience because it is more rewarding than they imagined. Six-year mentor Scott Mekus says, “This experience has made me a better person and has given me a chance to share past and new experiences and to learn and grow along the way.”

A mentor is an adult who, along with parents, provides a young person with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there. Mentoring makes a difference because the young person sees that he matters to someone else and that an adult is willing to show up for him on a regular basis.

For more than 30 years, Chautauqua Striders has been dedicated to the mentoring and guidance of youth through education, advocacy and athletics. Chautauqua Striders’ community and school-based volunteers mentor nearly 100 youth in our community. You, too, can be a mentor. Just 30 to 60 minutes a week can bring new hope to young lives through the power of mentoring. For more mentoring information, or any of the 28 programs offered by Chautauqua Striders to our community’s youth and families, visit www.chautauqua-striders.org, call 488-2203 and like us on Facebook.

Originally founded in 1979 as a local track club, Chautauqua Striders has since developed into a multi-faceted community organization, proudly offering diversified programs that incorporate its mission to “mentor and guide youth through education, advocacy and athletics.” The not-for-profit agency, based in Jamestown, provides tutoring, mentoring, outreach and athletic programs to more than 2,000 Chautauqua County youth annually. The goal of Chautauqua Striders is to help youth graduate from high school inspired with the knowledge, skills, and confidence required for successful college and career experiences.