President George W. Bush proclaimed January 2004, as National Mentoring Month (NMM). Spearheaded, in part, by the Harvard Mentoring project, NMM is in its third year.
"Every life has value and potential, and all deserve the opportunity to have a bright future," the President said in his proclamation. "By spending time with a child and showing compassion and guidance, a mentor can profoundly affect a young life."
According to the Harvard Mentoring Project, studies have shown that mentoring is a highly effective strategy for preventing several key problems that young people face, including school violence, drug abuse and school drop out.
The Harvard Project showed that by successfully navigating a relationship with a mentor a young person develops a sense of caring, respect and trust and develops the belief that "I can". That positive attitude can make a fundamental difference in the youth's emotional development and goal achievement.
NMM 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 a waiting list of young people
-Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring.
Kids Hope USA is a mentoring program which develops a relationship between elementary school children and caring church members. Kids Hope USA works only through local churches. An individual church is involved with just one elementary school.
Volunteer church members are trained as mentors who then work, one on one, with a child from the partner school, one hour a week.
The First Christian Church of Brazil is involved in Kids Hope USA. They partner with Forest Park Elementary School. The mentors, the children and school staff all agree that the program is effective and beneficial.
According to Susan Treash, Director of Kids Hope USA at the First Christian Church, Vigo County has 13 churches involved in the program. Clay County has just one. Treash urges other Clay County churches to participate in the Kids Hope USA program.
Anyone who would like to learn more about the program may e-mail Drew Peirce, director of church recruitment out of Holland, Mich. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be obtained at their website at www.kidshopeusa.org or by calling the toll-free number 866-546-3580. For local assistance, interested parties may contact Susie Treash at 812-446-2214 extension 11 or 240-0055.