This is the month for mentoring
- Kate Wennerstrom
- Central Oregonian - Features
As New Year's resolutions go, one of the most rewarding could be mentoring a child.
>January is National Mentoring Month
With January being National Mentoring month, organizations throughout the country are focusing on the need for role models. Crook County's only formal mentoring program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO), is hard at work thanking their volunteers and seeking more.
"It's a relationship," said Lyrica Harris, program coordinator for BBBSCO. "The research shows that these kids are more likely to succeed in school and they avoid drug use and early parenting. There's just boundless research that shows that it's a great thing to be a part of."
With the growing need for role models, especially in small communities, it is important to recognize those that are already volunteering their time and emotion.
"We have 53 volunteers in Crook County right now, which is huge," Harris said. "Although, we also have 19 kids who are waiting to be matched. Primarily little boys - we really need big brothers."
Anyone can be a role model, from single adults and stable couples to the everyday heroes - teachers, pastors and neighbors.
"We really encourage low and no cost activities. So, taking your `little' to the park and going for a walk, or doing arts and crafts projects at home and cooking," Harris said. "We have a lot of matches, big brothers and little brothers, that go hunting together, and fishing. There are lots of outdoor activities in central Oregon."
Along with activities generated by the great outdoors, formal mentoring programs, such as BBBSCO, offer monthly gatherings and discount cards to local businesses.
"We have a big discount list where businesses all over central Oregon participate and they can go to those businesses without spending a lot of money," Harris said. "We also offer BBBSCO monthly match activities. So they can go to a free activity that we offer once a month."
Mentors are encouraged to spend just a couple hours a month with their "little".
"We suggest two to three times per month for an hour or so each time," Harris continued. "So, just a few hours a month - which is great because a lot of people think it's a lot more than that."
The children range in age from 5 to 18, and come from all different backgrounds.
"Traditionally, the program exists for kids coming from single parent homes. Although we serve kids from every type of demographic," Harris said. "We do serve those kids from single parent homes that don't have a male or female figure at home. But a lot of our kids on our program may have that already and they want an additional resource, which is good. Research shows that no matter what kind of situation you come from, if you have a role model to look up to, as a child growing up, aside from your parents, that you're more likely to succeed in life. That's why our program exists and we serve kids in this county."
Want to mentor?
If you would like to become a mentor, call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon Program Coordinator Lyrica Harris at 447-3851, ext. 333. The mentoring program will also offer "An Hour of Magic" on January 31, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Crook County Library. This informative session will offer suggestions for how to become a mentor.