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Lainey Smith said she looks forward to every time she and her mentee, Bridgett Church, can
spend quality time together.
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Originally published: 2014-01-13 15:06:10
Last modified: 2014-01-13 15:07:58

Mentoring month celebrated in Boone

by Sherrie Norris

January is National Mentoring Month during which Western Youth Network of Boone highlights the work its volunteers do year round. 

Since 1985 the agency has helped to fill a gap in youth services through a wide range of programs, none of which are more successful than its mentoring program. 

With a long history of effectively matching mentoring adults with children in the area, WYN maintains a constant waiting list of youngsters who need -- and desire -- a mentor figure in their lives.

The program is currently serving 49 young people in the High Country and has 28 boys and 12 girls waiting," said program director Angela McMann. 

In a recent survey completed by the participating youngsters, 100 percent responded that they feel supported by their mentor and enjoy spending time with their mentor; 90 percent of the participants feel that they can talk to their mentor about their personal problems and feelings; and 86 percent feel like their mentors help to keep them out of trouble when they are not in school. 

Activities that the mentors and their young friends enjoy together include eating out at local restaurants, walking dogs at the humane society, baking, crafting, hiking, fishing, talking, watching movies, completing homework, tutoring, eating ice cream or frozen yogurt, bowling, swimming, listening to music -- and singing in the car, McMann said. 

As part of WYN's attempt to raise awareness of its mentoring program, the agency is sponsoring its second annual essay contest this month.

The rules are simple and the theme is "Who Inspires Joy in You?" 

Each must contain no more than 300 words and the writer needs to tell the story of how the subject has impacted his or her life. The competition closes at noon on Jan. 15; a collaborative effort will be made by a group of community service leaders to choose the winners. Prizes will be awarded for first and second place in three age categories: 5-10 years, 11-16 years, and 17 and up. 

Last year's essay contest, the first sponsored by WYN, drew a large number of entries; its organizers hoping for the same this year.

Choosing the winners was not an easy task, McMann said. "We had many wonderful stories that warmed our hearts and proved that mentors do have a tremendous impact on the lives of many young people in our community." 

"Boone is such a special community filled with so many natural mentors," she added. "It is our hope that during January people will take a moment to thank the people who have made a difference in their lives." 

January 30 will be Boone's "Thank Your Mentor Day," McMann said, during which program participants will be treated to a ski and snowboard day at Appalachian Ski Mountain, compliments of a mentor.To learn how you can make a difference as a mentor, contact McMann by calling (828) 264-5174 or visiting http://www.westernyouthnetwork.org.

 Your essay may be submitted electronicall to (mcmanna@westernyouthnetwork.org) or mailed/delivered to WYN, 155 WYN Way, Boone, NC 28607.