Striders’ Volunteers Are Recognized
It’s National Volunteer Week, and one local organization is recognizing the commitment its volunteers show the community.
Chautauqua Striders is a county-based organization that strives to create meaningful bonds between mentors and students that help children become successful adults. Striders provides support and encouragement, widens the horizons of students, and helps them set and reach their goals.
Just last year, Striders volunteer mentors spent 2,295 hours providing this kind of guidance for local youth.
Striders volunteers make a commitment to meeting for at least two hours each month with youth, and many volunteers meet with children for much longer. Usually, mentors meet face-to-face with youth, but the pandemic has made remote meetings through Face Time, Zoom or messaging apps necessary.
Even throughout the last year of COVID restrictions, Striders volunteer mentors have been committed to being there for the youth.
Erika Muecke, director of mentoring at Striders, said that mentoring is a “great thing for the community.” Because mentors from one generation meet with and support youth from the next generation, Striders fosters a sense of community within the county.
In a typical year, Striders volunteers meet with students at school during lunctime. At Jamestown High School, Striders has a mentoring room with staff present where students can come in and receive guidance at their leisure. Other schools have Striders mentors come in to mentor their youth.
Striders also conducts community-based mentoring where mentors meet with youth at their homes, play board games or sports, take them out for ice cream and take them on trips throughout the community.
Striders holds activities for both mentors and youth, too. Last month, Striders rented out a movie theater where mentors and youth were able to get together as a group and enjoy a film together.
Next week, Striders is holding an event at Allen Park where, like the movie theater event, the group can get together and also participate in activities like tie-dying, planting greenery, arts and crafts and other various physical activities like basketball.
Mentors are volunteers who are willing to make long-term commitments and give the youth their time and support.
“Our volunteers are amazing, giving, and generous,” Muecke said. “We really appreciate their heart and compassion.”