Volunteer Mentors Needed for Emporia Youth
Emporia Youth Mentoring has formed a new partnership with Brothers Big Sisters of the Flint Hills that will allow the school-based mentoring program to continue for students for years to come.
Emporia Public Schools has reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters to take over management of the program in 2015-16. During 2014-15, Emporia Youth Mentoring and Big Brothers Big Sisters will work together to recruit and train volunteer mentors and match them with students who have asked to meet with an adult mentor on a regular basis.
“The Emporia School District believes in the value that mentoring provides for students. Therefore we are committed to finding a way to continue our efforts,” said Heather Wagner, Student and Family Resources specialist for the school district. “The positive influence of a mentor makes a profound difference in the lives of our students.”
Wagner and Andrea Landgren, BBBS executive director, will work together to assure a smooth transition and a successful future for the school-based mentoring program. “The opportunities for adults to make a difference in students’ lives will not change,” Wagner said.
Landgren believes the program is a good fit for her organization, which also pairs adults with youth.
“I’m thrilled knowing local youth will continue to have mentors, that support system we all desire and an extra person in their life to count on,” Landgren said. “We couldn’t be more proud to partner with Emporia Youth Mentoring and USD 253 to better the future of these awesome students. These organizations work with students daily and we are honored they are putting their trust in us to continue this important role.”
Students in the program and their adult mentors have been notified of the transition and have been invited to continue under the BBBS guidelines. During 2013-14 Emporia Youth Mentoring had 529 students in the program and 121 volunteer mentors.
Delores Heins, manager of the Emporia Capitol Federal branch, has been a volunteer mentor in the program since it started as Youth Friends. She started meeting an hour a week with Nydia Bonner when she was a kindergarten student at Logan Avenue Elementary. When Nydia moved to Emporia Middle School last year, she wanted Heins to continue visiting once a week.
“Then she asked, ‘what about when I go to college,’ and I said, of course, I will be there for you as long as you need me,” Heins said. “I’m somebody else she can talk to. I more or less am there to listen and that’s important to her.”
Nydia, now a seventh grader at EMS, looks forward to having lunch with Heins once a week. “I like that there is an adult that likes spending time with me,” Nydia said. “We just talk and I enjoy hanging out with her. She’s very fun.”
Nydia plans to remain in the mentoring program under BBBS. In fact, she hopes to eventually become a mentor herself and she wants to explore becoming a “big sister” for a younger student through the organization.
Heins encourages employees to serve as mentors and Capitol Federal allows them paid time off during the work day to meet with students. Four Capitol Federal employees are serving as mentors and all plan to continue as the program moves under the Big Brothers Big Sisters umbrella, she said.
“I encourage people to get involved with these young students. So many kids need someone to talk to, someone who cares about them,” she said. “One hour a week is not a big deal. The time commitment is one hour a week with a student.