The month of January is recognized for many things. It is the start of a new year, a time to celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. and even a time to celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day. January, is also celebrated as National Mentoring Month (NMM), a time to celebrate mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives.
The goals of NMM are to raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms and to recruit individuals as mentors.
Locally, Newton Mentoring, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3, provides endless opportunities for mentoring and mentorship in the community. The grass roots organization was developed in 2008 to provide support for the students in the Newton County School Ssytem (NCSS).
According to its website, Newton Mentoring’s vision is to “change the community, one child at a time.”
Margaret Washington, of Newton Mentoring, said interested mentors or students can contact her at 678-381-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The application is also available online at www.newtonmentoring.org.
She said mentors are asked to matched with mentees based on similar interests and personalities. Any type of person can be a mentor.
Washington said there is a waiting list of students interested in getting involved with the program, but not enough adult volunteers. There is a need for more male mentors specifically to get involved in the program.
Mentors are asked to meet with the mentees for one-hour a week at the school during school hours.
“They don’t have a specific thing to do, but the idea is that they form a relationship with the child,” she said. “They can do many things: they talk, they play games, it’s just whatever they and the child wants to do.”
Washington said 2017 marks the first year a mentee will graduate high school while enrolled in the program. The student has been with her mentor since 2008 when she was in fourth grade and will graduate at the end of this school year.
“Mentors get a lot of joy out of being part of the program,” she said. “It is very rewarding.”
The mentees – a majority of which come from single-parent homes – are in need of knowing someone cares about them, she said.