Wanted: Role Models

Story by Chris Graham

You can be a mentor – yes, I’m talking to you.
“A lot of people think they aren’t adequate, that they can’t be a mentor. Well, let me tell you something. When I was a kid, I had a mentor who was my teacher – and I never thought of him as a mentor, I just thought of him as a teacher. But he was such a good role model. He was so intelligent, and he listened, and he lived the lifestyle that he preached. And those skillsets are really what you need,” said Philip Day, the mentoring coordinator for MentorMatch, a program of Lutheran Family Services in Waynesboro that is matching up adult mentors with young people in the Greater Augusta County area involved in the local juvenile-justice and foster-care system.

MentorMatch estimates that there are approximately 200 young people in the Greater Augusta area in the juvenile-justice and foster-care system – and just about all of them “need someone there who is going to listen to them,” Day said in an interview for last week’s “Augusta Free Press Show.”

“That’s the important element in all of this,” Day said. “We want them to have fun – but at the same time, we want this mentee to see this adult mentor as a person they can trust, and as a person who can listen, and as a person who is someone that that mentee can look up to.”

The program requires mentors to commit to two hours per week of involvement for one year with their match.

“Two people, two hours, one year. That’s all we ask,” Day said.

“You need to listen – number one, listen. Listen to this youth that you’re going to spend time with every week. The second thing is to be punctual – be there on time. And the third part is planning – plan those two hours,” Day said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a college student, or you’re retired. You can put those skillsets together – along with all your other talents and abilities – and be the mentor that these youth need,” Day said.


Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.

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