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Big Brothers Big Sisters: January is Mentoring Month

Local organization still in need of mentors for youth

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 11:40 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 12:01 p.m. CDT

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January 2013 will mark the 12th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, an annual media campaign to recruit volunteer mentors for young people.

To help highlight a month filled with events focused on promoting mentorship, and in advance of a special event with Iowa lawmakers slated for Thursday at the Iowa Statehouse, Newton Mayor Michael Hansen recently signed an official proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month within the city. His proclamation stated:

“Whereas, Iowans serving from all walks of life as mentors to youth across the state have given their time, talent and energy to improve the lives of all youth; and

“Whereas, children and youth in mentoring programs greatly benefit from the guidance mentors offer; these programs help raise grades, self-confidence, motivation and school attendance; and

“Whereas, mentors are compassionate volunteers with broad areas of knowledge and expertise that serve as role models and build positive relationships with the young people of Iowa; and

“Whereas, mentors are doing their part to improve the health and well-being of our youngest Iowans by helping them become productive, caring, engaged adults with an unlimited future; and

“Whereas, the Iowa Mentoring Partnership works to increase resources dedicated to mentoring, promote quality standards for mentoring programs, and expand mentoring opportunities tailored to the needs of all youth.

“Now, therefore, I, Michael L. Hansen, Mayor of the City of Newton, do hereby proclaim the month of January, 2013, as Mentoring Month in the City of Newton.”

The proclamation was signed at a special ceremony in City Council chambers with a small group of Newton-area Bigs and Littles in attendance. The proclamation came at the behest of Rita Baker, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jasper County director.

“We not only have children in the area in our Community-Based Program, but we have a growing School-Based Program in the Newton Community Schools that is enriching the lives of not only the elementary children served, but the high school students and community members who serve as mentors, as well,” she said.

National Mentoring Month was created in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. It celebrates mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives. Its goals are to:

• Raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms

• Recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people.

• Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring.

It’s a mission not too dissimilar to Baker’s year-round objectives with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jasper County. She said the organizations continues to have an ongoing need for volunteer “Bigs” to serve the needs of local “Littles.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Mission of Jasper County mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. It offers three main programs:

• School-Based Mentoring: allows individuals, high school age or older, to meet one-to-one with a “Little” at the child’s school for 30 to 60 minutes each week, during or after school. “Bigs” spend time doing homework, playing games or just talking — all while building a relationship and increasing the child’s self-confidence and academic performance.

• School-Based Plus: an extension of School-Based Mentoring in which “Bigs” and “Littles” have the opportunity to meet once a month outside of the school setting. Mentors must be at least 18 years old and the match must be together for three months or more.

• Community-Based Mentoring: allows individuals who are 18 or older to visit with a child twice a month for a minimum of four hours a month. “Bigs” spend time with their “Littles” participating in activities throughout the community. With every activity, a friendship grows.

Each Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jasper County match is carefully administered and supported by rigorous standards and trained personnel. Agency professionals strive for matches who are “not only safe and well-suited to each child, but also harmonious and built to last.”

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at beschliman@newtondailynews.com.

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