A Georgia Family Connection Collaborative

Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

Your Local Georgia Family Connection Collaborative Organization

Be a mentor, dare to be the difference

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The Spalding County Mentoring Program is looking for mentors and has a current campaign with a goal of 30 mentors in 30 days.

A mentor acts as a listener, a role model and a friend, according to the Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program. Children who are mentored have better school attendance, better attitudes toward school, a greater likelihood of completing school and less substance abuse than non-mentored students, according to GSC Mentor Program Coordinator Elly Zhilyak.

To get started you need to be at least 18-years-old, complete an online application (at www.gscmmentor.org) and a background check. Volunteers are asked to pay $10 to help in the $45 cost of the background check, with the rest paid by the program.

Mentors are asked commit to mentoring a minimum of one hour, per week during the school year, attend a mandatory 2-hour mentor orientation. According to Zhilyak, there’s a mentor training/orientation session from 4 to 6 p.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the Griffin Spalding County School System Central Office Building, 215 South 6th St., for those who’ve already completed the application and background check.

The following schools are currently participating in the mentor program — Anne Street Elementary, Atkinson Elementary, Jackson Road Elementary, Moore Elementary, Cowan Road Middle, Kennedy Road Middle, Rehoboth Road Middle, Griffin High and A.Z. Kelsey Academy.

Mentors interact with their mentee on school premises, once each week for a meal, school program, game or conversation. The program requires a one-year commitment, but mentor-mentee pairings are encouraged to extend beyond the first year. The mentor visiting schedule is flexible during school hours.

Zhilyak said a mentor after hours is scheduled for the Sept. 26 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the 424 West Taylor St. office.

Why 12-months? Youth in mentoring relationships that lasted more than 12 months felt more confident about completing their schoolwork, skipped school less often, had higher grades, and had a lower rate of drug/alcohol use, according to www.childtrends.org, but “short-term relationships of three to six months typically show no significant improvement, and even briefer relationships will likely have a negative impact on the child.”

The Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program began in 2012 through the combined efforts and contributions of the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, the Griffin Housing Authority, and the Griffin-Spalding County School System and it is managed through the Spalding Collaborative.

The Mentor Program matches caring adults with students in the Griffin-Spalding County School System who would benefit from having a volunteer mentor to help on their path to becoming successful adults.

Parents have to consent for their child to participate in the mentoring program.

“Mentors do not take the place of parents, grandparents, or any of the other important people that make up your child’s life,” according to gscmentor.org. “They are simply a friend — someone to provide additional support and guidance to your child. Someone that can help support you in the toughest role of your life — caregiver of a child.”

For more information or to begin the process, visit www.gscmentor.org.