Community Champions: Rotary looking for more mentors for in-school program

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Above: School, rotary and Big brother representatives gather about the mentor program in this Morinville News file photo. The program is now in its third year.

by Stephen Dafoe

Working with young people is one of the mandates of the Rotary Club of Morinville and its sister branches throughout the world. Over the past few years, the local service club has been involved in a partnership with area schools, educators and Family and Community Support Services departments to offer a mentoring program for students.

The Rotary Mentor Program involves in-school mentors sharing one hour a week with children between grades 3 and 6 at their school providing homework help, reading, playing games or just being a friend.

The program is currently seeking more adult mentors to pair up with mentees.

Now in its third year

The Rotary’s mentorship program started in the 2015/16 school year with two Morinville schools – Morinville Public and Notre Dame. At the time, the program was a partnership between the Rotary Club of Morinville, Sturgeon School Division, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

With two Morinville schools well underway, the program is looking to expand into Sturgeon County at Camilla School in Riviere Qui Barre and then on to Alexander First Nation.

“The schools are very happy with the program,” said Rotary Club of Morinville Vocational Service Chair Gordon Boddez, who is overseeing the program. “They’d like to see more mentors. We have an abundance of mentees but not enough mentors. There are currently 18 mentors in the two schools.”

Boddez said some mentors, including himself, have been with the program since its inception three years ago. But the benefits do not go one way – mentors get as much out of the program as mentees.

“It’s been a very positive experience for me,” Boddez said. “I did it initially because I helped set up the program and felt I needed to participate. But I did not know the rewards that could come to me and the rewards that could come to that person too. You get to know the parent. You get to know the teachers. There is a really good feeling that you get, a rewarding feeling inside that you’ve made a good contribution to someone’s life.”

Only an hour a week

Mentors are adults who are willing to take one hour a week, just 60 minutes or 3600 seconds to help students.

Boddez said the mentor would go to the school to work with a student for that one hour a week and that there is no one way to mentor the child.

“Some need just a friend just to become a buddy and support that person,” Boddez said, adding the results are positive for both mentor and mentee.”

Statistically, the program indicates mentored children are less likely to miss school and experienced increased confidence and connectivity to their school.

No special skills needed

The biggest skill set a mentor need is an hour a week and a listening ear.

Boddez said once the form is filled out to participate, participants receive a criminal record check and then take an orientation session. That session will be held at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre on Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. Participants are invited to the Rotary Breakfast that morning at 7:15 a.m.

For more information on getting involved in the program contact Gordon Boddez at 780-886-0310 or by email at gjboddez@gmail.com.

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