Whitman students in Walla Walla Mentoring Coalition mark National Mentoring Month
Karah Kemmerly '14
The holidays are over, but many Whitman students are still giving – especially to the younger members of the Walla Walla community. January is National Mentoring Month, and the work of about 130 Whitties is in the spotlight. All year they have participated in six different mentoring programs. Together these programs form the Walla Walla Mentoring Coalition. The programs range from YoungLives, which gives mentors the opportunity to work with young mothers and their children, to Trilogy, which links mentors with recovering substance addicts in order to make the recovery process easier.
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Another popular option, the Whitman Mentor Program, pairs Whitties with local elementary and middle school students. Participants meet with their mentees once a week during lunchtime to play on the playground together, read books or just have conversations with one another.
Mentoring programs like this one provide potentially at-risk youngsters the opportunity to see how they can succeed. According to the National Mentoring Partnership website, students who have been mentored in the past are less likely to skip class or begin taking illegal drugs and more likely to go to college than their peers.
Whitman's outreach coordinator, Susan Prudente, helps to organize Whitman's involvement in these community mentoring programs, and is enthusiastic about the positive effects of mentoring.
"Mentees benefit the most from a consistent, caring, positive adult role-model staying present in their life," she said. "Listening, encouraging, and simply being a friend is the starting point."
She is confident that mentors benefit and learn from their experiences through the mentoring process as well.
"Their mentee is probably not someone they would meet in their day-to-day life, so when students make them a priority they benefit from this weekly commitment to seek the higher good of someone outside their peer group or family," she said.
Whitman will host an event Thursday, Jan. 31 so that each organization within the Walla Walla Mentoring Coalition has the chance to share its work and goals with members of the community. Keynote speakers Mark Brown and Teri Barila of the Children's Resilience Initiative will also share their research on effective mentoring practices.
The event takes place in Maxey Auditorium and will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the speakers at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.