Mentorship Program An Option For Students

Mentors and students in the new St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Chautauqua Striders mentoring program were excited to see their building materials for the day: balloons. They were given the task of building a tower with only balloons and tape. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Chautauqua Striders have joined forces to provide mentors for students at Love Elementary School in a fun and easy way.

The group meets weekly, and there are currently 13 mentors and 13 students. The program includes a check-in time, a snack and a project at the school from 3:15-4:15 p.m. The group is just starting out, having only met for two weeks.

The Rev. Luke Fodor of St. Luke’s said the program started from a desire to make mentoring a more accessible process for both children and adults. For some, the commitment could seem mountainous.

He said the idea can be overwhelming because it is a long-term commitment, but he set out to make it easier. Partnering with Striders, Fodor said they created a program to give participants an idea of what mentoring can be like. The program has a timeframe where it begins and ends, and allows people to mentor in groups of two or three. The St. Luke’s Thrift Shop gave Striders a $5,000 grant to make the program possible, but Fodor said Striders would have made it work even if the funds weren’t available due to the need for mentors in the area.

“It’s a really exciting program for adults, and it is exciting to get the back into the school,” he said.

However, Fodor said with all the mentoring needs, St. Luke’s alone “isn’t going to cut it.” Rather, Fodor said he would like to encourage others in the community to get involved in mentoring, even if they are not a member of the church.

“We need every church, every organization and every person,” he said. “We are just encouraging every one to show up humbly and love a child.”

The Jamestown Jackals, a local professional basketball team, has begun a mentoring program at Washington Middle School as well. Kayla Crosby, Jackals team manager, said the reason the team began was to bring positive role models to the Jamestown community.

She said they have been trying to connect with Striders from the very beginning of the organization and were excited to officially start a formalized mentoring program.

“Right now we are setting up one-on-one mentoring with Washington Middle school and the Jamestown Jackals,” Crosby said. “We hope to expand the program to a trio mentorship, adding Jamestown Community College students as well.”

The players gather at Washington once a week and will start out with snack before one-on-one meetings with students.

“This will be the opportunity for the pairs to have open dialogue and build rapport with one another,” Crosby said.

The group submitted an application for a Community Foundation grant in order to add students from JCC.

From week to week, Fodor said children spend an average of seven minutes in one-on-one time with an adult, making mentoring a valuable option to provide that extra attention. He said mentoring has been proven to help build children’s self esteem.

“My goal is that every child in our district has an adult that loves and cares for them, should they want one,” Fodor said.

Those who are interested in mentoring for the new mentoring program at Love Elementary School do not have to be members of the church; they do have to sign up with Striders and undergo a background check. Fodor said there is no training necessary to be a part of the program.

It is important for interested parties to sign up in advance, he said, adding that they cannot just show up to the school. For more information on how to get started, call 483-6405.