In an effort to assure positive influences in the lives of young people, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed January as Mentor Awareness month.
Over the past several years, the county has continually made strides in developing mentoring programs, such as the Employee Mentor Program which has been serving youth in Stanislaus County since 1998. For the past 15 years, the program has attracted county employees and various partner agencies and organizations while becoming involved in the lives of young people in Stanislaus.
With the help of many key departments, the Employee Mentor Program was developed with input from the Sheriff’s Department, Juvenile Probation, the Stanislaus Office of Education, the Community Services Agency, and several community based organizations such as the Volunteer Center of United Way and the former Stanislaus Mentor Network.
While mentoring a fourth-grade student at Shackelford Elementary in Modesto, Phannary Pen of the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency said that her student improved from 41 to 65 percent on his test score average.
“This was my first year participating in the mentor program and it is truly a gratifying feeling when you know the child you worked with really benefited from the mentoring session,” said Pen. “I’ve really just looked forward to every Thursday going to see him during lunch, because during these trying times within our world, the smallest acts of kindness really go a long way.”
In 2013, the program exceeded more than 22,000 total mentor hours and has helped improve school attendance, academic performance, and high school graduation rates. Today, the program has over 400 Stanislaus County employees who have actively participated or are currently mentoring local youth.
Created by the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Mentoring Partnership, a national campaign — National Mentoring Month — brings attention to the need for mentors across the nation. The partnership has expanded over the years since its inception in 2002, now including partners such as the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the United Way Worldwide.
To find mentoring opportunities and nearby programs, visit www.nationalmentoringmonth.org or call the Stanislaus Employee Mentors Program at 652-1514.