The Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club’s theme for May is Youth Services.

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The Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club’s theme for May is Youth Services.

To kick off this month’s theme, Elly Zhilyak, program coordinator of the Griffin-Spalding County (GCS) Mentor Program, was the guest speaker for the club’s May 3 weekly meeting. Founded in 2012, Zhilyak discusses how the GSC Mentor Program sensibly matches caring adult volunteers with selected students throughout the Griffin-Spalding County School System.

Students who may benefit from help on their path to becoming a successful adult from the kind of gentle guidance, focused attention, and positive role model influence that a mentor relationship can provide are nominated to the GSC Mentor Program by their teachers, coaches, and/or parents or legal guardians.

Currently, there is a wait list for the program, as there are over 100 students eligible but only about 28 existing mentors.

Zhilyak said the program is always welcoming new adult volunteer mentors, while also stressing the commitment and dedication required. Contracts last for a minimum of one year, but, ideally, matched mentor/student pairs would last throughout the term of the student’s school career to graduation.

Duties of the volunteer mentor involve being available for the student on a consistent basis (a minimum of 45 minutes to one hour, per week), building trust through listening to the student with whatever the student may need or want to discuss, and assisting the student in reaching his or her best potential. For anyone interested in becoming a volunteer, but who may feel unsure of “how” to be a mentor, Zhilyak clarifies that mentor training is available and will be provided by the GCS Mentor Program to all new volunteers.

Once through training, volunteers are ready to be matched with a student. Zhilyak explains how careful consideration is taken when assigning each volunteer. The program strives to pair the most auspicious matches in order to achieve the greatest possible outcome, ensuring the success of both student and mentor. Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club guest and GSC mentor Ish Holmes shared how fulfilling the program is to him and encourages everyone to consider volunteering as a mentor.

For anyone who dares to be the difference by becoming a volunteer mentor, contact the GCS Mentor Program to learn more at

Submitted to GDN May 21, 2017