National Mentoring Month: Getting involved recognized by Council

February 03, 2010
Santa Paula City Council

Oftentimes it just takes a friend, someone who can mentor a young person and serve as an example, to set the stage for a happy and successful life. 

And those who mentor, as well as those who benefit, were lauded at the January 19 City Council meeting, where Vice Mayor Fred Robinson presented a proclamation recognizing January as National Mentoring Month. Big Brothers Big Sisters Isbell Middle School Program Coordinator Eileen Reynoso and 8th grade student Ricardo Morales accepted the proclamation.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the oldest such programs, and mentoring, according to the national proclamation, is a longstanding tradition in which a dependable, caring adult provides guidance, support and encouragement to facilitate a young person’s social, emotional and cognitive development.

Continued research on mentoring shows that formal, high-quality mentoring focused on developing the competence and character of the mentee promotes positive outcomes, such as improved academic achievement, self-esteem, social skills, and career development. There is strong evidence, said Robinson, that mentoring “successfully reduces substance use and abuse, academic failure and delinquency.”

Such programs - there are more than 4,700 across the United States -work both ways, as in addition to preparing young people for school, work and life they are also extremely rewarding for those serving as mentors.

Approximately three million young people in the nation are in solid mentoring relationships. But in spite of the progress made to increase mentoring the United States has a serious “mentoring gap,” with nearly 15 million youth in need of mentors.

The U.S. Senate, in its designation of January’s National Mentoring Month, recognized “with gratitude the contributions of the millions of caring adults and students who are already volunteering as mentors and encourages more adults and students to volunteer as mentors.”

Robinson said the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is celebrating 40 years of serving in Ventura County, and last year 1,095 youth were matched with mentors. “In Santa Paula there are currently 26 kids matched with adults,” in addition to 149 elementary age youth matched with high school students.

The “potential value” of such one-on-one relationships is providing guidance and companionship that Robinson said assists youth in developing positive self-attitudes, among other benefits. Robinson urged all citizens to “give support to help all children reach their full potential” by becoming involved in a mentoring program.

Reynoso said Santa Paula has “a huge need for adults. Ricardo has been matched for almost two years... he’s Fred’s Little Brother.”

Ricardo told the council that before Robinson became his Big Brother he was a very poor student, but since being matched his grades are now A’s and B’s. “He helps me with a lot of things, talks to me about what I can do with my life” if he continues his education. Robinson, added Ricardo, “has been a big help and there for me a long time.”

And Ricardo, said Robinson, “is a wonderful young man” with a strong preference for hamburgers, and they both enjoy bowling and going to the movies. And, he added, “Ricardo is quite a star with Santa Paula Youth Football.”

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