Tribune-Democrat Guest Editorial: National Mentoring Month – Investing in Our Youth

January 25, 2015, By Phyllis J. Bandstra, Goodwill's President & CEO, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat

Goodwill CEO Headshot_Phyllis Bandstra_Color High ResAs many of us may be busy focusing on our New Year’s resolutions or perhaps still compiling our lists, I invite you to consider helping to make a positive difference in the lives of our youth through mentoring.

With January being National Mentoring Month, it is the perfect time to start.

Since 2009, Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies has been operating the GoodGuides Youth Mentoring Program. We are creating opportunities for youth to learn from caring adults about life skills and to prepare for school completion, post-secondary training, and productive work.

Our agency is currently reaching more than 110 youth ages 12–17.

There are 88 GoodGuides mentors in our community who are graciously giving their time every month.

And we need more.

With each new year, we might resolve to make smarter financial decisions, use our time more wisely and focus on personal improvement. What if more of us would also include mentoring a young person?

Mentoring makes a positive difference in the lives of the individuals and in our community.

Mentoring can be a powerful factor in helping youth who lack family structure, reducing the number of youth who are disconnected from school and work, increasing social and economic mobility and creating a more productive and prosperous community.

There are many success stories, such as a young boy who did not have many male role models growing up. His extreme shyness prevented him from joining social activities. He joined GoodGuides when he was in seventh grade.

Shortly after he joined, his father passed away – leaving him feeling even more withdrawn.

He was matched with one of our adult mentors who has been with GoodGuides since our program began. During the past 4½ years, they participated in many career and social activities that have strengthened their bond and increased this young person’s self-confidence.

Now a junior in high school, this youth is enrolled in a college prep program at a local university.

He is proudly on track to be the first generation of his family to go to college.

It is this and many other success stories that demonstrate just how powerful and necessary mentoring is.

Will you help to write the next one?

I invite you to check out the articles in today’s Living section, the first in a series of monthly features about the youth in our community that highlights how powerful this program can be.

Help them to aspire.

Guide them to achieve.

Become a mentor.

They are waiting.


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