Mentoring helps youth on path to greatness Text Size

During the month of January, communities across the country celebrated National Mentor Month. Established in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, and encourages the members of a community – individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits – to work together to increase the amount of mentoring partnerships in our city, in order to guarantee brighter futures for our young people.

The theme for this year’s mentoring month celebration was “Mentoring Works.” Here in Holyoke, we are fortunate enough to have several mentoring programs that not only work directly with our city’s youth, but also have a renewed investment in helping us reach more young people in need.

As mayor, I strongly believe that these programs are vital to the success of our young people, as I call attention to a few of our mentoring programs for the work they have done in our community.

Out of the many programs offered by Girls Inc. of Holyoke, a group mentoring program pairs young girls ranging from the ages of 11 to 15 with a mentor from the Girls Inc. staff. Through this particular program, girls receive one hour of mentoring time in addition to two hours devoted to the curriculum of Girls Inc., covering areas in financial literacy, teen pregnancy prevention, substance abuse prevention and community leadership. Goals of this program include reducing risk behaviors while increasing positive behaviors, instilling social and academic self-competence and confidence in refusal skills in the domains of sexual activity and drug use.

Since 1967, the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County has been to strengthen our community’s future by providing one-on-one mentoring services to both children and teens. Students are matched with caring and trusting adults who provide an ideal model for these students to look up to, as these relationships are supported by the resources and staff provided by the organization. Matches can spend as little as an hour a week together, engaging in activities which promote positive social and emotional development. By participating in this program, children are less susceptible to the pressures of drugs and alcohol, can understand the importance of regularly attending school, and gain a powerful sense of confidence from their mentees.

Finally, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke implements a program where staff serve as mentors to youth coping with a wide variety of challenges and needs, including emotional and behavioral disorders, court involvement, foster care services and school suspensions. Each mentee engages in over 100 hours of service, which includes community based activities and extensive outreach work with parents, guardians and school staff.

These programs help relay the message that these students are important to our community, and that we want to see them thrive as individuals in our society. By providing young people with a support system and sense of encouragement that they may not receive on a daily basis, these adolescents are provided with the notion that they do matter, and that they can achieve greatness.

Alex B. Morse is mayor of Holyoke; to learn more about mentoring programs in Western Massachusetts, go online to
Photo credit  The Republican/John Suchocki

Posted on February 14, 2013 by