Editorial — Give an hour a week to help a local child

April 2, 2015

By Staff

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Children of all ages are one of our most valuable resources. They’re the ones who will grow up and inherit this planet. They will also be the ones to try to repair problems that people before them have created or not been able to fix.

So it’s crucial that they have good teachers. And good teaching doesn’t always happen in the classroom. In the Issaquah and Renton school districts, hundreds of people are giving valuable time.

Don’t have time, you say? It takes an hour a week. One hour.

Thanks to volunteer mentors, the future is brighter for more than 300 elementary, middle and high school students who are finding joy, confidence and opportunity through the VOICE Mentor Program, according to the Robin Callahan, executive director of the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

In Renton, more than 150 students received the guidance of a mentor through the Community in Schools of Renton program during the 2012-2013 school year. Community volunteers provided 2,885 hours of mentoring support.

The programs bring together mentors (some as young as 13) with students in need of academic, social or emotional support.

For many mentees, Callahan said in an email, the hour they spend each week with their mentor is like a warm hug of love and acceptance.

Unfortunately, with the end of the school year looming, there are still many students in need of a mentor. Each is hoping to find a “special someone” to become their friend, cheerleader and confidante.

Men, in particular, are in short supply. Sixty percent of mentees in Issaquah are boys, but only 20 percent of mentors are men. A strong male role model increases school success while decreasing absenteeism and discipline problems.

If you have just one hour to give, email Sue or Teresa at the VOICE Mentor office at voice@issaquah.wednet.edu. For the Renton School District, your contact is Mara Fiksdal, mfiksdal@rentonwa.gov.

Learn more about Issaquah’s program at http://voicementorprogram.org, and Renton’s at http://renton.ciswa.org.

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