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Mentoring program benefits all parties involved
mentor photo
Undrey Bostic and Khalil Barnes are "mentor" and "mentee" in Newton Mentoring Program Inc. - photo by Contributed Photo

Mentors can come in the form of a lot of different avenues including parents, siblings, teachers and even supervisors. 

But sometimes, mentors can be hard to find. Enter the Newton Mentoring Program Inc.

The non-profit mentoring organization was founded in 2008 by the late Honorable Judge Horace Johnson to provide children with the support and additional tools needed to be successful once they become adults.

Meet mentor Undrey Bostic and his mentee Khalil Barnes.

Bostic is the director of residential dining at the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former military veteran – Bostic has lived in the Covington and Rockdale County areas since 2010.

When asked how he learned about the mentor program, Bostic said his memory is a little fuzzy – but that program coordinator Ruth Banks had reached out to him. For Bostic, it was all about wanting to get more involved in giving back.

“I was always interested in doing something more in the community,” Bostic said.

While COVID-19 temporarily halted those plans, Bostic joined the mentoring program in 2021 and would be assigned two mentees, a different student named Jordan – who has since moved out of the state – and Barnes.

Barnes is currently a 9th grader at Newton High School. He joined the mentor program when he was in the 7th grade. 

The decision came to pursue the program when Barnes’ guardian, Ladazsa Green, met with one of Barnes’ teachers.

“One of his teachers, she said, ‘You may want to reach out to one of the guidance counselors we have here about mentoring opportunities,’” Green said.

From there, a meeting with a guidance counselor led the pair to the Newton Mentoring Program.

For the past two years, Bostic and Barnes have met regularly to develop a relationship that will help Barnes as he goes through the different grade levels in school.

In what is usually every other Tuesday, the pair discuss school, grades and anything else that may be happening in their lives.

Every so often, the two will venture outside of school to spend more time together. This usually could mean going to see a movie, going out to eat and even feeding the unhoused in the community.

For Bostic, it is all a part of providing a healthy and enriching avenue.

“Just being that point of motivation and that consistency,” Bostic said. “A lot of times teens don’t want to talk to their parents about things and I try to be that outlet.”

That outlet has connected well with Barnes, who said that he has felt his own improvement since joining the mentor program.

“I think he [Bostic] overall has helped me become a better person,” Barnes said. “I feel like he’s helped me to be a better leader. He makes me a better student in school, just tracking my work and making sure I’m doing well.”

Overall, Green said the mentor program has been a success for Barnes. She says that mentors like Bostic set an example for the children to become the best version of themselves.

“I think with the Newton Mentoring programs having Undrey [Bostic] be a part [of it], it really makes a difference in these children’s lives,” Green said. “It gives them that positive role model that they need.”

Barnes is now focusing on keeping up with his grades while looking to try his hand in athletics, too.

He hopes to one day go to college with the hopes of doing something sports-related. 

But in the meantime, Barnes will continue to be under the tutelage of Bostic and the Newton Mentoring Program.

While the program is designed to be life-changing for the mentee, it is just as impactful on the mentor.

“I have a lot to balance but when I am mentoring students it takes my mind off that. It just  creates a balance,” Bostic said. “It also creates a mental outlet for me. When I’m with kids I put away phone calls and things that are related to work or to school and it gives me a time to set that aside and puts the focus on what I’m doing as a mentor.

“It’s enriching for me.”