As I began to write this article, it occurred to me that I saved the article as “Kidsville January 2016” Since I seldom write checks or hand write anything that requires a date, this is my first official use of the year, 2016. As I look at January, I’m excited about the year and what it will bring. Every month, we will commemorate something of importance and January is no different.
January is Mentoring Month. We honor those who mentor and we discuss the need for more caring adults to ‘give back’ to an individual child. I still have four mentees in our school system. To date, I have mentored eight. With the exception of one, it has been a good relationship and I have been proud of their accomplishments and pleased that they allowed me into their lives. I’ve think that I’ve lost one to the street. I share the fact not for sympathy or for excuses, but to show that everything did not work out the way I wanted, but I tried.
Why do we need mentors? First, many of our young people don’t have positive role models in their lives. Many are being raised by grandparents and many are being raised in single family homes. For others, one or both of their parents are defending our country. While these heroes are deployed, there is a void that needs to be filled. Although, I don’t mentor girls, I have talked to female mentors and they share some of the concerns that the young women express. Many need a mature female to tell them that they don’t have to grow up too fast.
Many young people don’t feel that they have hope. They need someone to invest a few minutes a week to tell them that they have value. If you show up, they now know that someone cares. Many people believe that for a wide variety of reasons, our students will not have as bright a future as we did at their age. Still other reports show that the lack of opportunity will make our children leave Cumberland County for college or a job and not return.
I believe in our young people. I believe as long as I’m able, I will have at least one mentee. A recent poll of 18 to 29 year olds said that they really don’t care about your age, if they know you care. At my age, I’m pleased to hear the good news.
Do you care? Will you commit a few minutes a week to make a difference? Remember: it’s about being a mentor, not tutoring Algebra.
If you’re interested you can visit the Cumberland County Schools’ Website to sign up (www.ccs.k12.nc.us). The United Way of Cumberland County also displays on its Website opportunities with community agencies. There are churches that have started programs. If you are interested, I will be glad to help you arrange training and to choose a school site.
Don’t let the month of January pass without taking the first step to becoming a mentor.
I want to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the growing number of mentors. I love talking to people who are mentoring. Most are enjoying it and acknowledge that they are getting more out of it that their mentee.
Dr. Frank Till
Published by Laurie Pender on January 1, 2016