Mentoring program is all about connection

 

Diana Zimmerman

Coordinators Minette Smith and Terrie Howell prepare for the first meeting of the Wahkiakum Youth Mentorship Program, readying the supplies needed for the new mentors and mentees very first project together, using soil and starts donated by the Community Garden to pot a plant together.

Last Tuesday all the preparation for the Wahkiakum Youth Mentoring Program went into practice when they held a Mentor Mentee Match at the Hope Center in Cathlamet, and introduced mentors to the youth they would spend the next year, at least, getting to know.

"It went really well," Coordinator Minette Smith said. "I think we have some really cool matches and I heard some positive interactions going on."

The program is run by Wahkiakum Community Network and Wahkiakum Health and Human Services, and is funded by the Washington State health Care Authority.

At the meet and greet, eight volunteer mentors were paired with their mentees, totaling nine, and thanks to a donation of soil and starts from Chris Holmes and Joyce Orr of the Community Garden, they spent the next hour potting a plant with their new friend and getting to know each other.

"We were really pleased with mentor turnout," Coordinator Minette Smith said. "We have such a great group of mentors. They are amazing people. They come with so much experience."

This year, the program had a harder time finding youth, which really surprised everyone involved.

"Normally it's the other way around," Smith said. "We kept having to put the mentors off this year, but we were finally able to pull it all through."

Through the program, the entire group will participate in monthly activities that have a focus on the community. Smith said that several community members and organizations have already offered to host activities that connect the youth with their community, resources, and other adults

The pairs have also pledged to meet at least four hours each month, whether it's an hour a week or a couple hours every other week, Smith explained, adding that time is requisite to building the relationship.

Smith remarked that regardless of how many resources kids have, all of them need other adults in their lives besides their parents.

"They need somebody outside of school and outside of their parents to connect them to the community," she said. "Because we are a prevention organization, our goal is just to have extra adults for kids to connect with, because connection is key to all kinds of issues, and it gives them hope."

The kids, or mentees participating so far, generally range in age from 13-15, but Smith says the program is open to youth from K-12. So far they haven't gotten any other applications.

"We're trying to run this perpetually, so if anyone is interested in becoming a mentor and mentee, they should contact the program. When we have enough mentors we will do another training," Smith said.

For more information call 360-795-8630.

 

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