National mentoring month urges citizens to get out and give back

Related Story

COLUMBIA-  January is a month dedicated to providing the youth of today with resources and support they need to be successful.

The National Mentoring Partnership or MENTOR, has been around for 25 years and aims to develop a national network that provides regional, state and local leadership and infrastructure to support quality mentoring relationships.

 National Mentoring Month was joined and endorsed by President Barack Obama through a presidential proclamation in 2014, and is celebrating 15 years of connecting the nation’s youth with caring adult mentors.

“During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who give of themselves to guide our young people, and we renew our commitment to realizing a future of opportunity for all,” Obama said.

Although Columbia recently released a report showing a gradual decline in volunteerism since 2012, this trend does not change the motivation of some Columbia residents.

MU senior Anthony Pendleton has volunteered at the Rainbow House since 2015 and acts as a mentor to many of the children at the center.

“A lot of these kids haven’t had a positive black male role model in their lives or any role model, and that’s what I am to them,” Pendleton said. “I show them that some of the behaviors they have seen or experienced aren’t right and that not everyone acts that way.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that only 25.3% of the national population volunteered in 2014, which was a 1.3% decline since 2012 when 26.5% of the population volunteered in their communities.

According to a report presented to the Columbia City Council, Columbia residents volunteered 33,864 hours of service in 2015, which is a significant decrease since a record high of 50,300 hours in 2012.

Marcus Williams is the Youth Specialist from Rainbow House and works with children firsthand. He said that mentorship is vital for communities.

“Mentorship is important because it provides people - children specifically, in this case - a support system outside of their home that can spur them on to do great things and make the right choices,” Williams said. “That relationship is often invaluable, and having it can make all the difference in the world.”

MU senior Deena Dalton volunteered at Columbia’s Boy’s and Girl’s club and even as a female Boy Scout leader. Dalton said that volunteering in your community is essential.

“If we want children to grow up to be behaved, contributing members to society, then we must install in them education and awareness today,” Dalton said. “It's important for kids to feel like they are being listened to and it's also important for kids to have someone they can look up to.”

According to MENTOR’s website, one in three children will grow up without a mentor in today’s society.

“Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations,” MENTOR’s website states. “Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.”

The overall goal of National Mentoring Month is to build a movement of natural mentors like teachers, family friends and coaches who work to connect the youth with opportunities and networks.

In his proclamation, President Obama said he calls upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators and Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities and programs.