Mentoring was the focus of the monthly Hawthorne Huddle meeting.
Representatives from four local organizations; Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, Kinship, YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters, shared information regarding their various mentoring programs.
“There is no greater return than the children we have served on the Northside,” said Amy Casserly of Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts. “It’s a great opportunity for kids who have special needs. You’re not just teaching singing, dancing and acting, you're becoming involved with the lives of the children, parents and grandparents.”
Kinship offers mentoring opportunities by helping children ages 5 to 15 in need of additional support to realize their potential. The organization encourages couples, families and individuals to spend time with a child.
“Mentoring is about building relationships,” said Margie Edberg, Executive Director of Kinship. She added once the official mentoring program ends many mentors stay involved in their mentees’ lives.
The YMCA Youth Intervention Services has been serving youth in the community for 15 years. The group offers a mentoring program serving adjudicated youth 13 to 18 years of age.
“We are especially looking for men from the communities these children come from,” said Rebecca Keyes of the YMCA. “A lot of the children referred to us through probation are boys and we do not have enough men (as mentors).”
For more than 100 years Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better.
Darlene Bell of Big Brothers Big Sisters stressed the importance of mentors, especially African-American male mentors.
“We are always looking for mentors,” said Bell. “We have over 700 children on our waiting list (for a Big Brother or Big Sister) and a majority of those are boys and even more of those are boys of color.”