January is Mentoring Month: Mentoring is a simple way to volunteer

January is Mentoring Month ... Pictured above, left to right, mentor Elaine Holthaus and her mentee Ebreanna enjoy spending time together. Helping Services for Youth and Families is celebrating January as National Mentoring Month with a variety of events and activities designed to promote youth mentoring. Submitted photo.

January is National Mentoring Month. Helping Services for Youth & Families is celebrating mentoring friendships and inviting others to engage in their community with the theme “Mentoring is simple! Be a friend to a youth.”

Mentoring has a positive impact on youth and the volunteer mentor. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships bring about powerful and positive changes in youth. Mentored youth have a greater chance of avoiding negative influences, such as substance abuse, bullying or dropping out of school.

One in three youth grows up without a positive adult role model to look up to.

The need for positive role models is extremely vital as families deal with the stress of unemployment, illnesses and lack of support. There are currently 18 area youth who just want a friend to hang out with. One of those kids is Terry. He is ten years old and likes four-wheeling, weightlifting, sledding and woodworking. He wants to be a farmer when he grows up.

Volunteer mentors do not do this alone. Colinne McCann, Mentoring Coordinator at Helping Services, shares, “We, at Helping Services, provide you with the tools and training you need to be successful. We share activity ideas and provide fun and safe events, making it a simple process to mentor.”

There are many exciting opportunities during the month to celebrate. Proclamations were signed with the County Boards of Supervisors Monday, January 3 Howard, Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties.

A Mentoring Potluck Dinner is being held this Thursday, January 13 at First Lutheran Church in Decorah from 5:30-7 p.m. Mentors, mentees, Mentors For A Day, steering committee members, and their families are all invited to attend. Youth Mentoring will provide sloppy joes, milk, water and table service for the event. Mentors are asked to bring a dish to pass.

A virtual training for adults will take place Tuesday, January 25 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The presenter will be Jen Stolka, ACPS, CHES and Prevention Supervisor from Helping Services. The topic will be on problem gambling and will cover a definition of gambling, current legislations, the local impact of problem gambling, and the signs of problem gambling. It is suggested that attendees pre-register for the training event at www.bit.ly/DelCoMentoring.

Individuals, couples and families can mentor a youth. Take one simple step, become a mentor. Visit www.helpingservices.org/mentoring for more information, or contact Colinne McCann or Kathy Schwartzhoff at 563-387-1720 or mentoring@helpingservices.org.

Serving families since 1973, Helping Services for Youth & Families is dedicated to responding to current health and safety needs of youth and families through empowerment, support and education.