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Catholic Charities Launches Community Mentoring Program

FULTON, NY – In an effort to better serve area youth and get the community more involved in their development, Catholic Charities of Oswego County has begun a new Community Mentoring Project.

According to program supervisor Gail Cooper, the program seeks to help young people reach their potential, succeed in life, and contribute to society.

“Our goal with the Community Mentoring Program is to have adults in our community help youth ages 8 to 17 with a mental health diagnosis develop the confidence and character they need to be successful, productive members of our community,” said Cooper. “This will be accomplished by having adults serve as mentors for our youth. These caring individuals will offer guidance and encouragement by spending time with them, engaging in activities with them or just talking and sharing their experiences.”

Cooper said that the program was established to meet the increasing need for this type of service.

“The Oswego County Children’s Mental Health’s Single Point of Access Process has received a number of requests for a mentoring program of this type. SPOA is the process by which children’s mental health community-based services are accessed and by which level of service recommendations are reached. At their recommendation, we have established a program that is unique to our county,” said Cooper.

Catholic Charities’ Community Based Mentoring Program is the only one of its kind in our county.

While a Children’s Respite program exists for young children and school based mentoring programs are available, this is the only program that seeks to provide youth with a mental diagnosis access to adult mentors who can truly make a difference in their lives.

Cooper explained after she receives a referral from Children’s SPOA the parent is contacted to set up the initial meeting between the mentor and child to discuss their needs and goals.

The child is then paired with an appropriate mentor based on their personalities, likes, dislikes, and other similarities.

“We strive to ensure that the match will be beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee. Mentors receive the satisfaction of knowing that they are making a difference in someone’s life, giving back to their community, and learning about themselves, all while having fun and sharing quality time with a young person. For the mentees, the program helps them gain self esteem, improve their social and academic skills and experience positive social interaction,” said Cooper.

The program is currently recruiting adults interested in serving as mentors.

Those participating in the program receive $10 per hour for their efforts as well a reimbursement for any mileage associated with their duties as a mentor.

“We are looking for caring individuals who would like to provide youth with support, counsel, friendship, and constructive reinforcement. Mentors do not need any special skills or training, by sharing their personal experiences and their talents, mentors will be positive role models who demonstrate how the mentees can learn from good decisions. Interaction between the mentor and mentee is essential to the success of the program as the youth learn through communication and participation,” added Cooper.

To accommodate today’s busy schedules, the program offers considerable flexibility for the mentors, as they will meet with their mentee at times that are convenient for both.

“I encourage our community members to consider becoming a mentor and experience for themselves the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping your community by helping to shape the for future for our youth and making a difference in a young person’s life,” Cooper said.

For information on Children’s SPOA, call Oswego County DSS / Mental Hygiene Division, 100 Spring St., PO Box 1320, Mexico, NY 13114, Phone (315) 963-5361.

For information on becoming a mentor, visit www.ccoswego.com or call Cooper or Karen Davies-Buckley at (315) 598-3980 or e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]