Sometime the best solutions are the simplest ones.
Four years ago, during a visit to the Charlottesville/Albemarle Regional Jail with the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Charlottesville class, it was clear to me that many of the inmates were young men under the age of 25. That led to a question for Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo: At what age do we need to reach youth before they turn to criminal activities or drugs? His answer, that kids are deciding between school or gangs as young as the age of 10, stunned us.
So often these kids are a reflection of their environment. Something as simple as a mentor who will take an active interest in their lives, can change a kid’s outlook on life and raise their expectations for themselves. Think about it – who mentored you? A parent, a teacher, neighbor, coach, older sibling? They might not have thought of themselves as a mentor, but the positive attention they gave you meant a lot, and you probably wanted to live up to their expectations for you.
There are so many kids in our community – from elementary school kids who are struggling with reading, to middle school students who are latch-key kids, to high school students who don’t see the point of school – who could use a friendly adult to encourage them and help them see a future for themselves.
There are also many wonderful organizations in our community that provide these opportunities for kids, and for the adults who want to help them. Mentoring takes many forms – from reading a book with an elementary school student, to sharing your passion for music or sports with a group of teens, to taking a child to their first museum visit or college sporting event.
Which is why the United Way’s Volunteer Center became part of the Leadership Charlottesville class project – Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on! – and has continued the month-long public awareness campaign about the importance of mentors and tutors for our youth. We are joined in this effort by our sponsors: MichieHamlett Attorneys at Law; the Omni Hotel, Charlottesvillle; Monticello Media radio stations, The Daily Progress and NBC29. Please join us on Thursday, January 26 between 11:00 and 2:00 at the Omni Hotel for a mentor and tutor opportunity fair, where you will be able to meet face to face with representatives from 17 local organizations that need volunteers to work with kids. You can find an organization that is the right fit for you – your time, your interests and your style.
January is National Mentoring Month. All month long, we are running guest posts from volunteers, staff and the kids who benefit from these organizations. We hope you will subscribe to our blog feed, or keep checking back to read their stories. And put January 26 on your calendar!
Kim Connolly, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area.
Please enter your email address. You may unsubscribe at any time.