Mary Palkowski is hoping more people would decide to volunteer as mentors, and do so early.
By IKE MGBATOGU
COLUMBUS – If you have ever wondered how you could “make a difference that will last a lifetime” for young people, how you could be a part of nurturing them into being responsible adults, “one child at a time,” here is one good idea to consider: become a volunteer mentor for the Central Ohio Project Mentor.
“Now is a good time to become a mentor,” said Mary Palkowski, spokesperson for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Ohio.
Project Mentor celebrated the start of its fifth year in operation last week at the Columbus Africentric Early College, 300 E. Livingston Avenue, where community partner ‘OhioHealth’ mentors met their mentees for the first time.
In an interview last week, Palkowski told the Call & Post that the purpose of the program is to “empower Columbus City School students for successful life.” And when that empowerment happens, it lifts up the entire community in a positive way, she said.
With the new school year well underway, Palkowski is hoping more people would decide to volunteer as mentors, and do so early.
“We are definitely looking for volunteers for this school year,” said Palkowski. And the earlier they become mentors, the better.
The idea, said Palkowski, is to match mentors with students as early as possible. And there’s a good reason for matching them up early in the school year. She explained that volunteering early allows mentors “more time to spend together with the students throughout the school year, to bond together throughout the school year.”
And is that bonding a big component of what makes Project Mentor work?
Palkowski said the mentors and their mentees meet once a week at school. And during the parley, both are engaged in building a lasting rapport, allowing the mentor a friendly space to work on molding the student’s character while encouraging good study habits to achieve academic excellence.
The project’s website, www.projectmentorcolumbus.org further elaborates. “The goal is to empower individual students by focusing on the assets required to improve academic performance and high school graduation and to positively impact the entire education community – one child at a time.”
Project Mentor, which was established in 2007, is a collaboration between Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Columbus City Schools with Nationwide Foundation providing big support.
And since its inception, it has done well. In its first year alone, it matched over “1,000 mentors with students. And, over the years, it has grown to involve 65 Central Ohio institutions in government, the business community, and community agencies.