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Summit aims to inspire culture of mentoring
youth mentoring pic
Sierra Vista Resource Center will host its annual mentoring summit to educate local adults on ways they can become mentors. - photo by Photo Contributed

The influence of a role model is powerful in the life of a youth, especially for those facing adversity. This is why the Sierra Vista Resource Center has begun an annual mentoring summit to educate local adults on ways they can become mentors to affect positive change for youth in the community.

Sierra Vista Resource Center was founded in 1972 by a local dairy farmer who was also a Stanislaus County Mental Health Advisory Board volunteer member. Founded on the premise that children need positive and loving role models to grow into healthy adults, Sierra Vista offers various programs to meet the needs of individuals facing challenges such as mental illness, child abuse, substance abuse and the like.

This year marks the second annual Youth Mentoring Summit which was precipitated by an anonymous donor’s interest in helping children in the community. As a mentor for a handful of students in the area, the donor wanted to find a way to reach more children in need of support in the community.

“He came to us and said he was working with about 10 kids, but knew there were hundreds of more that needed help,” recalled Executive Director Judy Kindle.

Thus, the summit was born.

The original summit was produced in partnership with Modesto City Schools, the Stanislaus County Office of Education, United Way, Expect More Stanislaus and Mentor Me! Stanislaus. The inaugural event kicked off with David Shapiro, CEO and president of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership which was selected by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to lead the National Mentoring Resource Center.

This year men and women from all sectors of the community will reconvene for the second summit which aims to continue to establish a culture of mentoring in the community that benefits not only local children, but businesses and adults as well.

 “It’s a win-win all the way around,” said Kindle.

 “It is an easy, effective way to show the kids that they do matter,” added Michele Speich. “They are our future… this is where we need to start.”

And it works.

According to studies conducted by Public/Private Ventures, mentoring reduces school dropout rates by 52 percent, drug abuse by 46 percent, teen pregnancy by 35 percent and violent behavior by 52 percent. There are also several benefits for businesses that chose to incorporate time for their employees to mentor including a stronger tie between businesses and the community, enhanced employee morale and productivity, and an overall investment in the workforce of tomorrow.

In an effort to offer the region more mentoring resources Sierra Vista has established a Mentoring Resource Center that will be launching in upcoming weeks.

 “We decided we wanted to be a catalyst to not only grow mentoring in the county but to improve it as well,” said Kindle.

Locals have the ability to encourage young people to live up to their potential by registering for the second annual Youth Mentoring Summit. This year’s event will feature three speakers: founder and executive director of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance Kathy Witkowicki, administrator of Statewide Youth Development programs Dr. James Kooler, and Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon.

The summit will take place on Jan. 23 at the Martin Petersen Event Center at 720 12 Street in Modesto. Registration and breakfast will take place from 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. with keynote speakers from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Optional workshops will follow from 9:45 a.m. to noon. The deadline to register is Jan. 16 and interested individuals can do so at or by printing the form and faxing it to 550-5866.