Celebrating National Mentoring Month With Legislator William “Doc” Spencer
Every child has hopes and dreams. Mentoring brings caring adults together with children in need through safe and effective programs. By being a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life, mentors can help a young person navigate challenges, offer advice and share life experiences. Research has shown that children who have caring adults in their lives have a better chance of staying in school, out of gangs and away from drugs. It is for these reasons and more that Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer has sponsored a weekly Mentoring Program at the Tri-Community Youth Agency since he took office in 2012.
“Mentoring gives a young person the ability to see his or her own talents, the support to pursue them and a sense of life’s possibilities.” stated Legislator Spencer. “When youth receive reliable encouragement and guidance, it has the power to open doors to new opportunities. I am so pleased with the positive impact this program has had on the young people who currently attend and I am truly grateful to the Mentors who dedicate their time, talent and support on a weekly basis.”
“The students in this program have grown tremendously since becoming involved,” stated Tri-CYA Executive Director, Debbie Rimler. “They have participated on a consistent basis and some have been in the program for all eight years, barely ever missing a meeting. This speaks volumes to the work that the mentors have done. The mentees have heard presentations, attended field trips, but most importantly have had the gift of having adults listen to them, and support them throughout their formative years. The mentors and youth meet each week to share events from their lives, play games, have a snack, and have positive attention and sincere adults interested in their well-being. Thank you to Legislator Spencer for his support of this vital program.”
Angela, a student at Huntington High School who has been part of the program for the past 4 years said she “Considers mentoring her family away from home.” Alisha, also a student from Huntington High School who has attended since 2013 shared, “mentoring can be anywhere as long as we are together.”
Retired teacher, Diane Walsh says that the Mentoring Program gives her a sense of purpose. “Retiring after 30 years in public education, I found the Mentoring Program. I could work with young people, exploring their ideas, answering their questions and providing support for their endeavors. What could be better than working with such a special group, learning and bonding each week?”
Jerene Weitman said, “Seven years ago a neighbor invited me to consider becoming a mentor at the Tri-CYA. I had retired from public school music teaching and was still giving private flute lessons in my home studio. I wasn’t sure I had the skills to be a meaningful mentor but decided to give it a try, and soon learned that my life experience was more than enough to help guide those young people through the challenges of their difficult lives. For me, our weekly sessions are special times of sharing the week’s events and concerns. We have become an extended family that provides a safe, caring place for the young people to grow socially, emotionally and academically. Over the years I have watched some of our mentees become transformed from troubled middle schoolers into beautifully functioning teens and young adults. The satisfaction of helping contribute to that change keeps me involved year after year.”
National Mentoring Month is an annual designation observed throughout the month of January to raise awareness to mentoring in various forms. It celebrates the meaningful connections made through mentoring that positively affect the lives of both young people and their mentors. Research shows that children who participate in a mentoring program are more likely see improvements academically and socially, and the mentors who work with them are able build upon their leadership and management skills, while giving back to their community in a significant way. (www.serve.gov/mentoring
• Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class. • Seventy-six percent at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college versus half of at-risk young adults who never had a mentor.
• Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking.