"To encourage positive youth development by connecting community partners and students in caring and supportive relationships in a school-based setting." - goal of the Connections Mentoring Program
Buzz Paterson has been a volunteer with the Connections Mentoring Program for four years. Sharing a couple hours of his busy life each week has made a difference in the lives of at least two children. "This is a great program," he said.
Through a very selective process, adult volunteers are partnered up with young students at the Storm Lake schools as part of the mentoring program. The concern and compassion results in a growing friendship. The mentors meet with the students during the after school program and have the chance to talk, discuss school progress, work on projects, review for a test or play games.
While the program first focused on elementary students, the relationships are now flowing into the middle school, as mentors wish to have relationships with the students as they continue to grow.
Paterson has had two different mentees; this is the first year he has been with Alan Martinez. They have formed a nice bond.
"He is athletic and loves to throw the football and baseball around," Paterson said of two activities they share when homework is complete. "He is good at games, too," and has beaten Paterson, he admits.
The need is there for the mentors - there seems to be a continuous waiting list. It is apparent each time when Paterson meets with Alan and his friends gather around them and ask if he will be their friend, too. While the program is designed for one-on-one time, Paterson doesn't turn any kids away and will often take others under his wing as well.
He feels that the program is rewarding to the mentors and the mentees.
"I hope that maybe something I'm doing will make a difference in someone's life," he said.
"Anyone who has a little time to spare - it goes a long way with the kids. I look forward to my one hour a day on Tuesdays."
CommUNITY Education Coordinator Pat Cowan commented about the program, "The program is growing and it is is a very important piece that we can do for our kids."
Others who have made the commitment to be mentors are Barb Jackson, Dick Hakes, Josie Ellingson, Dick Drahota, Todd Hudspeth, Melinda Cords, Cindy Johnson, Mark Shea, Pat Cowan, Bob Wilson, Al White, Jutta Romans, Sue Geyer, Steve Brashears, Diane Hamilton, Greg Opseth, Carol Coombs, Katie Pitts and Clark Fort.
Care to join them?
For for an application, contact Pat at CommUNITY Education - 732-5711 - or Cindy at NWIADTU - 749-5169.