NATIONAL MENTOR MONTH: Are you ready to make a difference in the life of a young person?

Currently there are close to 100 local members of the community who mentor the Carson City area's youth. Highlighting just a handful of them this month has shown the vast difference between their backgrounds, ages and experiences.

Larry Messina has been one of the Mentor Center's greatest champions for youth since 2007. His first mentee struggled with an unstable household, an incarcerated parent, and school trouble. With Larry's help he was able to fix his grades, and is now very successful living with his father out of town. He remains in weekly contact with Larry, and will always know that he has someone in his corner when he needs it.

Lynne Parish's first mentee, Leah Taboada, was highlighted in the Nevada Appeal as the Mentor Center's first mentee to graduate college and then become a mentor herself. Lynne currently mentors Leah's younger sister Katrina, and along with her husband Rich is an excellent example of what mentoring means. She has helped both of the girls achieve their best potential and has shown each that the gifts they already possess are what make them important.

Rex Stelzer has been mentoring for six years and has worked with a family of boys. He was worried at first that, being older, he wouldn't have anything to offer youth, but his easygoing nature and ability to "stick with it" make him an incredible mentor.

There are so many mentors who deserve recognition, and there are many children still waiting to be matched with an adult.

Currently the center has more than 50 students waiting to be matched with a mentor. These students come from all walks of life with one thing in common: They could benefit from an extra adult who cares about his or her well being.

The list includes youth who asked for mentors who like to fish, shoot hoops, make crafts, go to movies and read. Mentors go through an initial background check and three-hour training, and then are asked to spend an hour a week for a minimum of a year with a student.

The staff works with the mentor throughout the relationship to assist and train.

In addition to the traditional mentoring opportunities, the Mentor Center has a program with high school sophomores called EPIC to help them focus on preparing for college. There are

13 students waiting for mentors with experience in fields including psychology, the military, nursing, teaching, politics and law.

Finally, the Mentor Center is looking for men to help form a group mentoring project within the program called Str8 Street, targeted toward young men who are at risk of joining gangs. The group would meet often to help support these boys and through activities form a place where they feel supported and connected.

The Mentor Center will be holding a training and information night for those interested in traditional mentoring from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Boys & Girls Club on Russell Way. Dinner will be provided.

There also is training for those interested in mentoring a sophomore in the EPIC program, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 12 at the club.

If you're interested in either of the trainings, or in becoming involved with Str8 Street, contact BGCWN The Mentor Center at 775-445-3346, or visit mentor.wnc

.edu, or



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