Lutheran Social Services Everyday Heroes campaign has marked two years of progress. The campaign is a grassroots volunteer-led effort to increase the numbers of mentors for at-risk youth in the Sioux Falls School District. Since the campaign began in spring 2014, the number of new mentors has increased 20%, going from 202 in 2013 to 246 in 2014 and 249 in 2015.
Despite the great effort, there is still work to be done. At the end of 2015, nearly 300 students still need or want a mentor. A majority of the students in need are boys. Only about one-third of the current volunteer force is male.
“I enjoy every minute I get to spend with my mentee each week,” said Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President/CEO and a current mentor. “But it is hard to ignore the longing glances from other students who I know are thinking they wish they had a mentor.”
LSS matches students with mentors throughout the school year and January is the perfect time to start. This January will mark the 15th annual National Mentoring Month.
To help close the gap of 300 students who want or need a mentor, LSS has set a goal of recruiting an additional 45 community members to mentor in January. Additionally, LSS wants to recruit 110 new mentors by the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Volunteers need to be over 18 years old, complete a background screen and training, commit to meeting an elementary, middle or high school student for one hour each week, and most importantly have a desire to be involved in the life of a young person.
Mentoring has proven to be an effective tool in boosting student grades, improving school attendance and decreasing behavior incidents. Most importantly, mentors send young people the message that their community cares about them. They give kids a sense of hope for the future and empower them to be their best selves. Young people that were at-risk for not completing school but who had a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor and 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their community.
In turn, volunteer mentors will have fun, feel more productive, experience personal growth and learn more about themselves and their community all while making a positive difference in the life of a child.
What are you waiting for? APPLY TO BE A MENTOR IN 2016!
Post by Michelle Madsen