January proclaimed as 'Mentoring Month'
Storm Lake's CONNECTIONS Mentoring Program has been certified as a member of the Iowa Mentoring Partnership by Governor Vilsack for 2006. CONNECTIONS Program is one of 65 programs who have received status as a certified mentoring program in Iowa. "This has been a wonderful year for mentoring in our community and we look forward to 2006." Said Pat Cowan and Cindy Johnson
The Governor issued a proclamation naming January Mentoring Month in Iowa. During mentoring month, mentoring programs across Iowa will be looking to recruit new volunteer mentors and raise awareness about mentoring.
"Mentors have been involved in my life at various ages, ranging from my early teen years to the present. Each mentor by their actions or their example helped to shape my view of life, my relationships with others, and my approach to practicing law and government," said Governor Vilsack.
Locally CONNECTIONS has been utilizing mentoring month to recruit new mentors and to raise awareness of their program. CONNECTIONS places mentors with young people in the after school program in grades Kindergarten through fourth grade (ETA). The program seeks to encourage positive youth development by connecting community partners and elementary students in caring and supportive relationships in a school-based setting.
The Iowa Mentoring Partnership and Iowa's Promise are working to encourage Iowans to be a mentor as research shows that children who have an on going relationship with a caring adult are much more likely to succeed in life. Iowa's Promise is running Public Service Announcement's sponsored by the Ford Motor Company using NASCAR drivers Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Jeff Burton and Lt. Governor Sally Pederson to encourage Iowans to get involved and be a mentor. To learn more about Iowa's mentoring programs or Iowa's promise visit www.iowamentoring.org or www.iowaspromise.org.
Locally, contact Pat at CommUNITY Education - 732-5711 - or Cindy at NWIADTU - 749-5169.
Shea and Miller are a winning team
Mark Shea and Gregory Miller have been a team for well over a year. Both of them are winners.
They are part of the Connections mentoring program and spend an hour each Wednesday together at the school during the after school program.
Mark, director of Gingerbread House, enjoys working with kids and seldom get the opportunity to work one-on-one with any of the children he comes in contact with each day at the Storm Lake day care. So he relishes the time he and Gregory are able to spend together.
Gregory, son of Tracy and Doug Miller and a fourth grader at South School, likes the time they spend together.
The two share conversation and talk sports, though they have different favorites. It is essential that homework, if there is any for the day, be completed before anything else is done. Mark answers questions that Gregory may have and looks over the work.
When the work is done, the fun begins!
Mark and Gregory often play board games but the young man's favorite pastime is working at the computer. There are many educational games on the computers located in the library which the two check out. Sitting side-by-side, they sometimes play the same game and sometimes they play different ones and compare.
Mark is glad he decided to make the commitment to the program, which he was made aware of through Rotary Club which he is a member."Right away I thought it was something I'd enjoy being involved in. I wanted to be a part of the program so I could make a difference in a child's life."
And that he has. Gregory's work has improved at school and his handwriting, Mark said, has greatly improved. Bystanders attribute some of those achievements to being part of the mentoring program.
Being teamed with each other, year after year, is a plus for the program. The mentor and mentee get the chance to become well-acquainted, taking away from the nervousness that may occur if teams were changed frequently. Plus, it gives the adult the opportunity to see their young friend grow.
Mark and Gregory knew each other before they were put together, as Gregory used to go to Gingerbread on occasion when he was younger.
Mark is planning to continue serving as a mentor and is looking forward to jumping up to the middle school with Gregory next year.