Volunteers for Youth recently hosted their 2017 PAL Mentoring Graduation Luncheon for graduating mentees, their mentors and their parents. The event annually recognizes matched mentors and mentees that are completing the program. Mentors and mentees may have been matched in the traditional PAL Program where they meet face-to-face once each week or in the email-based program called e-PAL. e-PAL matches communicate by email weekly and meet face-to-face once each month.
Notable moments at the graduation event included:
- Mentee, Maysa Sawney, asked to address the group and said that because of the e-PAL program and the mentors she’s had, she is planning to go to college to study psychology/social work so that she can help young people like Volunteers for Youth has helped her. She wants to “do what they do” in the non-profit arena (helping children).
- Gus Ramirez’s mentee Moises is Mexican and, while extremely intelligent, needed extra help with language barrier so that he could write his papers (especially in English class). He not only graduated but did very well.
- Mentee, Emily, who is painfully shy, astounded her mother by coming out of her shell and becoming noticeably more confident which her mother attributes directly to her time with her mentor, Kelsey Garrison.
- Mentee, Abby, gushed & teared up when talking about Kendra and how she loved her most of all the mentors she’s ever had in the program (she has been in the PAL Program for 6 years).
- Kristin and her mentor, Leveda, have been together two years and were featured in a story in the Tuesday, May 16thedition of the Claremore Progress.
PAL Project Director, Celina Davis, also recognized outstanding contributions to the program with a superman cape. “Caped” people recognized were: Craig Wilbourn – recognized as being tied with the 2nd longest match in PAL Program history… 11 years with same mentee. Wilbourn has now mentored for 12 years as he decided to continue with a new student this year. The other individual caped was Stacey Cole, a teacher at Claremore High School involved with the e-PAL program. She was caped for going above and beyond with the students and staff to help make e-PAL successful this year. She was emotional as she thanked each Mentor for being there for her students and added, “the education system is failing our children, but I’m glad that you are not!”
The mission at Volunteers for Youth is to positively impact the lives of our youth with an overall vision that Rogers County youth succeed. We offer site-based mentoring programs, an after-school program for 6th-8th graders, a classroom setting for students on long-term suspensions, and a program for high-risk juveniles or first offenders. The Healthy Community Partnership works with Volunteers for Youth to help improve the quality of life for Rogers County residents, by reducing prescription drug abuse, promoting smoke free environments, encouraging health and wellness through proper nutrition and increased physical activity.