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Morgan: January a time for mentoring
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March, it is said, "comes in like a lion … ."

Well, that’s a pretty good description of our January, isn’t it?

We’ve seen record-breaking snow and ice and a state — and Newton County — largely shut down by the crippling after-effects. On the same weekend frigid temperatures and disabling winter precipitation arrived, we reeled from senseless violence in Tucson.

I venture to say that we’ll recover from the snow and ice sooner than from an incident that calls into question this country’s uncivil discourse, the handling of the mentally ill and the addiction to guns.

Until the unsettling of our equanimity by these two occurrences, January was simply a month to get a break from the frenzy of the holidays. It was time to put the house in order, enjoy a little rest, pay off Christmas bills and plan a more productive year than the last.

But party planners have sneakily turned our peaceful month into 31-day-long festival with something for every special interest imaginable. Every date has its unique observance.

We’ve already missed a few: New Year’s Day is (appropriately) Bloody Mary Day. Jan. 2 was Cream Puff Day; Jan. 3 was Fruitcake Toss Day: Jan. 4, Spaghetti Day; Jan. 5, National Bird Day; Jan. 6, Bean Day and Cuddle Up Day (the former precluding the latter); Jan. 8, Bubble Bath Day; Jan. 9, National Apricot Day; Jan. 10, Peculiar People Day or Bittersweet Chocolate Day; Jan. 11, Hot Toddy Day; Jan. 12, National Pharmacist Day and Curried Chicken Day, and Jan. 13, International Skeptics Day and Peach Melba Day.

Today is Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day and Dress up Your Pet Day. Our dog Sonny makes a strong argument against that one. Saturday is National Hat Day and Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Sunday will be National Nothing Day and Fig Newton Day. On Monday, it’s Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day and Hot Buttered Rum Day, a fitting combination. Tuesday is Thesaurus Day and Winnie the Pooh Day, being the birthday of Pooh’s creator, A.A. Milne. Come Wednesday, it’s National Popcorn Day, followed Thursday by Penguin Awareness and Cheese Lovers Day. On Jan. 21, celebrate Blonde Brownie Day; Jan. 23, National Pie Day and Measure Your Feet Day (go figure!); Jan. 24, Compliment Day and Beer Can Appreciation Day; Jan. 25, Opposite Day and National Irish Coffee Day; Jan. 26, Spouse’s Day; Jan. 27, Chocolate Cake Day; Jan. 28, National Kazoo Day and Blueberry Pancake Day; Jan. 29, National Puzzle Day and National Corn Chip Day; National Croissant Day on Jan. 30; and Backward Day and Brandy Alexander Day on Jan. 31.

January, which takes its name from the god Janus who looks both backwards and forwards, suffers from split personalities.

January, among other things, is National Blood Donor Month, Thyroid Awareness Month, National Bath Safety Month, National Braille Literacy Month, National Hobby Month, Hot Tea Month (amen!), National Oatmeal Month, National Soup Month, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Glaucoma Awareness Month, National Egg Month, National Meat Month (not at my house), and Prune Breakfast Month.

Despite many of the fun and silly January celebrations, some have meaningful local relevance, such as the 10th Annual National Mentoring Month.

Our own Newton Mentoring program is run by Executive Director Margaret Washington, who tells me there are some 88 dedicated men and women working one-on-one with local school students who need the presence of a predictable adult in their lives.

More mentors are desperately needed, particularly male mentors who can make a difference in the lives of youth who’ve not known their fathers.

Mentoring reduces drug use and violence, boosts academic performance, builds character and confidence and prevents more drop-outs.

Newton Mentoring will host a recruitment reception from 5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning on Washington Street.

Mentors will be on hand to answer questions about the program and share their experiences.

Mentoring can make a critical difference in the lives of youth who might otherwise fail to achieve all that life is meant to be.

Might you want to give Margaret Washington a real reason to celebrate this month?


Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.