January is National Mentoring Month, and Communities In Schools of Chatham County (CIS CC) is celebrating the positive impacts of youth mentoring as well as recruiting more caring adults to make a difference in our young people’s lives. Mentoring provides guidance, encouragement, and support to help youth succeed in school, at work, and in life.
CIS CC Mentoring works! Last year, 55 youth were served through the Mentoring Program. 86% of the mentees met or exceeded the average daily school attendance rate. 86% of matched youth met their behavioral and/or academic goals. However, there is still a need for one-on-one mentors in Chatham County. CIS CC currently has 44 mentoring matches and 33 youth on the waiting list. Are you interested in becoming a mentor or do you know someone who might be? The power of mentoring is best illustrated by those who have been impacted first-hand.
Current mentors say that their lives have been impacted positively by their mentees. Elizabeth Fridley shares that she and her mentee “have learned and taught each other so much by sharing our experiences and perspectives. My relationship with Jade has taught me to be present and fully engaged.” Garry Sronce says, “It’s all so rich. Skipping rocks on flat water with a kid who has never done that before is simply a wonderful experience. And we can’t wait to do it again!” CIS CC celebrates our dedicated mentors and knows they will continue to be impacted positively in a variety of expected and unexpected ways.
What is the impact of mentoring with CIS CC according to the parents and family members of the youth served? Savannah and Mason are siblings who both attend 3rd grade at an elementary school in Chatham County. Matched since March 2017, Sue McMaster and Savannah do lots of things together: They read, shop, cook, hike, watch movies and eat popcorn, and Savannah is almost always very well behaved. Jane Gallagher and Mason (also matched since March 2017) spend time together, mostly outside being active. Jane was athletic as a child, and sees her younger self in the boy with boundless energy. Watching Mason run full-speed, barefoot, with not a care in the world—that, according to Jane, is what freedom really is.
Sheila is a non-parent family member living with Savannah and Mason, and she says mentoring has been very positive for both children. Sheila sees how Mason tries to use what Jane has taught him. He is much better at using his words when he is angry. And when he has so much energy he needs to release, he goes outside and runs around the house a couple of times as Jane has suggested. Although it’s a long journey, Sheila has seen a big difference. Both children’s grades have improved; Savannah recently made A/B Honor Roll and Mason missed it by just one point. Sheila has seen improvements in the home too. “It gets wild in here,” she said, “but it’s great that they have someone to spend time with and to take them places. They do all kinds of things.”
Karen is the mother of now 22-year old twin boys, Kenton and Kendrick. Both were mentored from when they were in 3rd grade until they finished high school. Kenton currently is an assistant manager at Food Lion in Siler City. Kendrick is a senior in college at East Carolina University. Both men still keep up with the mentors they grew to love as boys. Karen said that once the relationships were established, “no one wanted to let go.” Karen was diagnosed with MS when her boys were young, and she is especially grateful for the time the mentors spent with her sons. She never had to worry when her sons were with them. She knew they were well taken care of. The twins were and are very different, their mother said, and it was very good they had separate mentors. Each of them felt that they were important and mattered as individuals.
Perhaps the greatest gauge of the program’s impact is from what the mentees say themselves. I had a chance to speak with Savannah and Mason about their experiences with their mentors. Mason said Jane was “nice” and that she “gives you choices.” He said that by having a mentor he gets to “do more things like go hiking in the woods and look for neat stuff.” Savannah could hardly contain her excitement when telling me all the things Sue has taught her and done with her. “She teaches me lots! She taught me how to bake cookies and how to crochet, and she took me to the movies and to the Nutcracker Ballet!” Savannah added that when she does well, Sue rewards her with fun things to do. One of her favorite things about having a mentor is when Sue comes and eats lunch with her. It makes her feel really, really good.
Mentors with CIS CC are trained, screened, and supervised by our experienced Mentoring Program Manager, Shirille Lee. One mentor says, “You don’t really have to know what you’re doing in the beginning—you have so much support from Shirille. If you come to Shirille with a problem or concern, she laughs and lightens things up. It’s like Shirille is mentoring the mentors.” You can make a difference in the life of a child too! For more information, contact Shirille Lee, Program Manager, Mentoring Program, at: (919) 663-0116 x 404; firstname.lastname@example.org