A mentor is a wise and trusted friend. This January marks the 10th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, a month meant to raise awareness of the need to mentor youth in America.
The Boys and Girls Club Mentor Center, Carson City's original youth mentoring program, is kicking off this month in Carson City by honoring mentors in partnership with the Nevada Appeal. Along with other events in the community during January, The Mentor Center will honor the commitments and changes these amazing mentors add to the community.
Mentors are asked to give an hour a week for a minimum of a year, to spend time with a youth doing everyday activities. By listening, guiding, encouraging and supporting, a mentor can make a large difference in the future of a youth.
Mentoring has been proven to increase graduation rates, while decreasing potential participation rates in things like gangs, drugs and alcohol. Youth who are being mentored report better relationships with peers, parents and teachers as well. This aids in ensuring a future for Carson City that is bright.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada Mentor Center was started 12 years ago by members of Carson City Leadership Alumni. It is currently funded through a federal stimulus grant administered by Amachi. Forty-six Carson City youth from the ages of 5 to 16 are on the Mentor Center's waiting list; they all have unique gifts and interests to offer.
Look for mentors in The Nevada Appeal during the month of January, and thank somebody who mentored you.
For more information about National Mentoring Month visit www.nationalmentoringmonth.
org, and to be a mentor for a local youth contact the Mentor Center at 775-445-3346, mentor.wnc.edu, or www.bgcwn.org.
• Bridget Gordon is the outreach specialist for the Boys and Girls Club Mentor Center.
Albert Jacquez, 27, is unofficially a mentor for more than 300 students daily at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada as the athletic director. Officially, however, he is a mentor for three very lucky boys in the community: Isaiah, Mike and Joe.
Albert began mentoring Isaiah nearly three years ago, when he naturally saw a bond forming during time spent at the club. He realized that his ability to make a difference in Isaiah's life could be enhanced with time spent outside the club as well.
This school year, he took on two other mentees as well, and has seen growth in all three. At the club, the boys like to spend time together, "playing basketball, football, video games, and just getting homework finished." Albert helps them to make good decisions with others around, but the best time they have is on their weekly time outside of work.
"The ability to help them out, being the one they can count on, is my favorite thing about mentoring," Albert said.
By doing everyday activities, which often include time with Albert's 2-year- old son, Gabriel, the boys as well as Albert have grown through fun.
Spending time with the boys as a role model has been rewarding to Albert as well. He didn't have to have any special skills, tons of money, or loads of extra time. Most mentors have only one mentee, making Albert and his crew an exception, but even with the three, finding time is doable.
Mentors are asked to spend one hour a week with a one youth from the community, doing something that they might do anyway. Shooting hoops at the park, preparing a dinner, or finishing homework can make a big difference in the life of the mentee.