Success of Longview mentoring program creates need for more volunteers
By Mike Elswick firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb. 4, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Thousands of Longview-area young people have been assisted through the city's mentoring program since it was founded in 1996, but the need remains for even more to be helped.
Lyndell McAllister, director of the Longview Partners in Prevention Mentoring Program, said 168 children are being served by volunteers in one-to-one mentoring relationships, but more volunteers are needed.
"We have about 50 children right now who need mentors but are without," McAllister said.
With more mentoring volunteers, the program could be expanded to give more youngsters the advantages gained by having an adult spend time with them.
"It's never a waste of time to invest in the life of a child," McAllister said.
"Mentoring is a small volunteer opportunity, but it can make a huge difference in the lives of children - it's simple, but it's important."
The next training session for people interested in participating as mentors is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The basic requirement is a strong desire to help make a difference in a young life and the commitment of at least an hour a week to the program, she said.
Volunteer mentors are required to pass a criminal background check and other screening. The mentoring sessions usually are on local school campuses during off periods for the students, she said.
Longview's Partners in Prevention Mentoring Program started 17 years ago as a pilot program on two school campuses in Longview and Pine Tree independent school districts.
Today, the program can be found in eight school districts in Longview and five surrounding counties.
"We are one program of many across the nation providing mentors to young people," McAllister said.
"Statistics show that young people with mentors are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 53 percent less likely to skip school; and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.
"The power of mentoring is in helping kids develop hope for the future," she said.
"Through mentoring, young people can build their own future story with the support and encouragement of a mentor."