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Mentoring is an awesome feeling

January is National Mentoring Month.

All month long we are featuring guest posts from many of our local nonprofits that work with youth and need volunteers to become mentors and tutors. On January 26, 2012, the United Way Volunteer Center invites you to our annual Mentor and Tutor Opportunity Fair from 11:00 - 2:00 at the Omni Hotel. There you will be able to meet in person with representatives from 17 local organizations and fit the right fit for you as a mentor or tutor.

Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on!



For the last year, Hope 4 Kids has been the best part of my Fridays. As the children begin to filter out each week around 5:30, I sincerely cannot wait until the next Friday when I will be able to see them again. Being a positive influence to someone who looks up to you literally and figuratively is an important responsibility and an awesome feeling. The kids at the Hope Center are great; they are well behaved and full of energy. This can be attributed to the program’s leadership. When I began volunteering, Sharon Mason was the director of Hope 4 Kids, and I really admired the way she ran the program. She had a no-nonsense, tough-love demeanor paired with a genuine desire to help the young children grow to be successful students and peers. She stressed academic as well as social growth, recognizing the necessity of manners for a well-rounded education. The program’s current director, Lori- Ann Strait, has the same leadership style and truly demonstrates Hope’s desire to help not only the children, but their families and the surrounding community as well.


The Hope Center provides tutoring, exercise, and very valuable life lessons to children whose parents are often too busy at work to watch over them in the afternoons. The education techniques are very effective, as good behavior is incentivized and poor behavior is not tolerated. The children earn points for using their manners and helping out, and they may exchange those points for prizes at the end of each week. Through this program the children are also able to learn about the importance of saving, as there are items of various prices available, some of which are worth several weeks of points. The Hope Center also gives back to the surrounding community. For example, Lori-Ann recently provided all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner for the children’s families and alongside that gave them scarecrows as decorations. Also, at least twice a year, the Hope Center hosts a clothing drive, where they take donations in and then sell them to lower-income community members at significantly reduced prices.

There is a significant need for male volunteers for the Hope 4 Kids, as a positive male influence is very necessary for many of the kids who participate in the program. I highly encourage anyone who is interested to volunteer; it is a cause that is very worthwhile and enjoyable. I volunteer because I want the children involved in the program to succeed. The Hope Center has been a way for me to give back to the community through which I believe I’m making a lasting impact. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a ton of fun!

Guest post by: Andrew Thrash

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