The Youth Mentoring Network of Youth Services System Inc. celebrated the life-affirming relationships between mentors and mentees by treating them to a fancy dinner at Wheeling Country Club.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the Youth Mentoring Network held the recognition event, honoring the volunteer mentors who give their time throughout the year to positively impact the lives of youth. Thirty-three mentors and mentees attended.

Mentor Colette Sanner of Wheeling and her mentee Brooklyn pose for a photo at a recognition dinner hosted by the Youth Mentoring Network of Youth Services System Inc. at Wheeling Country Club on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The dinner was supported by local churches, businesses and individuals and was held as part of National Mentoring Month.

When asked during dinner what mentoring has meant to them, some of the youth shouted out: “Fun!” “Awesome!” “Rewarding!” and “Special!” One mentor, Jim Bock, stood up and gave an impromptu speech telling the youth how much their love means to the mentors. His message brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance.

Community sponsors provided door prizes and covered the cost of dinner for all the mentors and mentees. These supporters included many churches and individuals, the Northern District Office of the United Methodist Church, Valley Hospice, the Wheeling Country Club, Wheeling Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Envy Spa and Salon, and Country Club Retirement Center.

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to survive and thrive, to attend and engage in school, and to reduce or avoid risky behaviors. According to the National Mentoring Partnership at www.mentoring.org, as a result, these young people are:

• 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college

• 81 percent more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities at school

• 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities

• More than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or sports team

Unfortunately, only one of three youth who would benefit from having a mentor outside his or her family actually gets connected with one.

The Youth Mentoring Network (the former local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters) is seeking both adult volunteers (age 18+) and youth (ages 6-17) who would be interested in the program. Volunteer mentors are thoroughly screened and trained prior to being “matched” with a young person. The Youth Mentoring Network then supports the relationship with monthly free activities, regular supportive contact and ongoing education. Mentors are asked to commit to spending at least four hours per month with their young person for a year.

Forty-four percent of adults are not mentoring currently but have considered doing so. To learn more about being a mentor, contact Connie Ball at cball@ysswv.com or 304-218-2857.



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