Take Stock in Children is looking for a few good mentors - 50 of them, actually.
The mentors, who spend an hour a week with their student, are needed because 50 Take Stock students graduated with the Class of 2013.
Applications for 50 new, low-income students have been sent out to potential candidates and acceptance decisions will soon be made. At that time the students must be paired up with mentors who will encourage and help these students through the next two to five years of their scholastic lives.
"A mentor is another adult role model in their lives," said Leslie Holmes, the program's coordinator. "We're not asking them to be a teacher or coach or a parent, just another person to advocate for them."
Holmes said that the most effective mentors are those who have a genuine concern for young people, respect and accept different points of view, respect the right of individuals to make their own choices, and relate well to individuals with different experiences and cultures. Good listeners who can empathize with another person's problem, and who see solutions as well as obstacles, are also sought after.
"I love it," said mentor Richard Grusin. "It's an amazing program. I don't want to sound clichéd, but it really is about changing lives. These kids never would have had a chance to go to college, or pursue whatever else they want to, without this program. They also have the chance to go overseas with the Experiment in International Living program, in the summer. I think my student has actually contributed more to me than I have to him. I guess he's kind of mentoring me in that regard."
Prospective mentors must fill out an application form, and a background check is performed to ensure that each student receives a responsible and upstanding citizen, to work with.
The training takes about an hour, and trainers receive a guide book to help them with their mentor roles.
"Mentors meet with a student who has the odds stacked against them," Holmes said. "And students pledge to stay crime and drug free and keep their grades up. The students earn a college scholarship by graduating from high school and staying true to their pledge. The mentor will show the student that someone cares about them and wants them to stay in school."
Training sessions for small groups of mentors are ongoing.
For more information, call 305-293-1546.