January is National Mentoring Month. Five years ago, our Volunteer Center partnered with a team working on a Leadership Charlottesville project to recruit more local volunteers as mentors and tutors. The project was inspired by a tour of our local jail, which was filled with young men. The question was asked of Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo as to what age we need to reach our youth to keep them from ending up in jail. His reply was that children as young as 10 are deciding between school and criminal activities.
How do we best reach these kids to help them stay in school and lead happy and productive lives? By showing them another way. That is where volunteer mentors and tutors come in. Study after study shows that kids who have been mentored stay in school, get better grades, and are more likely to graduate high school and stay out of trouble.
There are as many kinds of mentoring programs as there are types of mentors. And that is why the idea for a Mentor & Tutor Opportunity Fair came about. The Leadership Charlottesville team thought that if we could bring the various types of local programs that work with kids through volunteers in one room at the same time, then members of the public would be able to visit face to face with agency representative to find the program that best fits their schedule and interests.
And there is a program to match everyone's profile. Like to play golf? Then help teach life lessons through golf with The First Tee of Charlottesville. Love to read? Consider becoming a Book Buddy through Charlottesville City Schools. Enjoy working on the computer? You don't need to know programming to be a Computers4Kids mentor.
Please schedule a visit to the Omni Hotel on Monday, January 28 between 11a.m to 2:00 p.m on your calendar. Meet and speak with representatives from 15 local agencies and schools. Try it. The one consistent comment we hear from those who mentor is that they get just as much out of the experience as their mentees do. You can too if you find the right program fit. The life you change may be yours.
Posted by: Kim Connolly
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