The 60 students are from McDuffie County's elementary schools, achievement center, middle school and high school.
They are white, black, male and female.
And they are all in need of the same thing: Someone to step up and step in. Someone who will listen. Someone who will be a role model. Someone who will care.
But here's the thing: McDuffie County Partners for Success -- the local agency that coordinates the mentoring program in the area's schools -- only has about half the number of mentors it needs to meet the needs of students.
As Executive Director of the Partners for Success, I've had the honor of seeing the difference local mentors make. The students referred to our organization are often at their lowest point: They've given up on school, withdrawn from social interactions, and often face problems and turmoil at home. We've even seen students who told us they get in trouble so they can stay in in-school suspension because they just don't want to be in the regular classroom.
As we approach the mid-point of the school year, McDuffie County Partners for Success is in desperate need of mentors. We have mentors in each school in McDuffie County, and we need mentors at each school. In fact, we have an immediate need for 28 mentors -- 22 males and six females. For example, we need eight male mentors and 1 female mentor at Thomson Elementary School. In those 28 cases, we have a student waiting to be paired up with a mentor.
All it takes is a commitment from you.
We don't ask for much.
It just takes 20 or 30 minutes a week.
But it really could make a lifetime of difference.
The requirements for our mentors are simple:
Male mentors will work with male students, and female mentors will work with female students.
All mentors must have a current background check.
All mentors must complete a 45-minute training session.
Mentoring sessions are conducted at the school or at the PFS office.
We at Partners for Success take this program very seriously. Not only do we work to find the best match between our mentors and the students, we also monitor the students' grades, behavior and attendance. We report those results each month to the schools, and we track the improvement and challenges of each student. It's the improvements that thrill us and the challenges that drive us.
If you would like to be a mentor, please call Nancy Shelton at 706-595-3112. This is your opportunity to help increase hope, and in the long term, create productive members of society.
It takes a community to make that happen, and that community is built one volunteer at a time.
(Miriam H. Smith is the executive director of McDuffie County Partners for Success Inc.)