Volunteers make a difference
By DAVID DEATON
The Boys and Girls Club of LeFlore County (BGCLC) not only offers a safe place for kids to be after-school we also offer a program that benefit children and adults. Our YES Mentoring program “Youth Experiencing Success” offers a great opportunity for caring adults to develop nurturing and supportive relationships with the youth.
“Mentoring is a two-way relationship,” said Jeff Gibson, a mentor at the Poteau location. “I learn a lot from my mentee and he learns from me.”
Gibson, a member of the Poteau Fire Department, shared the aspects of serving the fire department by allowing his mentee to see and learn about the fire truck and how it operates. Who knows, his mentee may discover a career he never dreamed about before.
Another Poteau mentor, Karli Beger, plays board games with her mentee. While some mentors teach knitting, quilting, scrapbooking and beading others offer skills at basketball or other athletic activities. Some of the youth just want someone to talk to and listen to what they have to say, building a friendship.
Some need help in making decisions about what career they want to choose, or help with their homework. The young artist may need you to encourage them to draw. The learning opportunities for both the mentee and the mentor are endless.
Oklahoma State Representative James Lockhart is serving as a mentor in our Heavener location. Representative Lockhart states, “I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to consider becoming a mentor. I know how hectic life can be and it may seem as if you do not have the time, but I ask you to stop and think about someone that made a difference in your life when you were a child, didn’t they make time for you? Oftentimes we underestimate the positive impact that a few moments make in a child’s life. I try to spend one hour a week mentoring with a child because I believe the good that men do lives on long after they are gone.”
Mentors should view a mentoring relationship as both an opportunity to teach and an opportunity to learn. A mentor can gain satisfaction by sharing knowledge, expertise, and positive influences, while a mentee can have their self-esteem boosted and share their thoughts and goals.
The mentoring needs of at-risk youth are growing, at the same time there is a shortage of mentors to serve our youth. It seems that most people lead such busy lifestyles that they find it difficult to set aside time for mentoring. BGCLC’s goal is to help build the self- esteem and confidence of all the children and youth in Leflore County. Our children are worth investing our time in. You could be the one who helps a child graduate versus being a high school dropout, a future leader in the business world versus a government assistant recipient. We challenge you to be the difference for a child by investing just 30 minutes a week to offer the support and encouragement they need to reach their full potential in life.
The YES Mentoring program is currently being offered at the Poteau and Heavener after school locations from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and serves fourth through eighth grade students. For more information about the YES Mentoring Program contact the office at (918) 647-7136.