January is National Mentoring Month, and this year Aspire Mentoring Program has much to celebrate. The National Mentoring Month campaign is aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults. This is what Aspire, formerly known as Forever Friends and Co-Pilots, has been doing in the Longview area for 25 years.
“As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary of mentoring in Longview, Pine Tree, Spring Hill, Hallsville, and Kilgore Independent School districts, we also celebrate our mentors who have invested their time and energy in our community’s young people. We have mentee alumni serving as police officers, accountants, social service staff, and counselors, among many other careers positively impacting our community. When good people invest in the lives of young people, the whole community wins!” according to Lyndell McAllister, Aspire Mentoring Program Director.
Aside from the non-profit organization continuing to thrive for a quarter of a century, they have also been named a grant recipient as a sub grantee of Youth Colloboratory and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). This award allows AMP to enhance mentoring strategies and expand, serving 100 additional students through April 2022 and supporting regular activities for mentors, mentees, and their families.
National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is typically highest. Challenges associated with Covid-19 and the inability to meet and gather have made it more difficult for the organization to find volunteers, but has not deterred them from pursuing their mission. The inability to meet with students on the school campuses was a big hurdle, though technology is providing an alternate way for mentors and mentees to stay connected.
“We have had to make modifications and adapt to continue our work to the best of our ability. Technology has been a positive component that has allowed us to continue connecting with and supporting our mentees. Calls, texts, Facetime and video meeting platforms have been essential along with monthly virtual activities mailed to mentors to enhance their mentoring time with mentees on virtual platforms. Mentors and mentees also meet at public parks where they can share time in person safely,” added Lyndell McAllister.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and avoid risky behavior like drug use. In turn, these young people are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, and 78% more likely to volunteer in their communities. Today, in our community there are countless kids who could benefit from having a mentor.
Aspire Mentoring Program aims to inspire and encourage young people for leadership through positive relationships and continues to train and match mentors with mentees. Registration for New Mentor Orientation is now open with dates available from now through April.
If you would like more information about AMP or how you may become a mentor, please call 903-237-1019 or visit www.longviewtexas.gov/mentoring.