Not every child in Morgan County has a stable home environment where they’re loved, accepted, encouraged, or have adults to trust and rely on. As a result, some turn to negative influences such as drugs, crime, or dropping out of school and face a tougher, uphill battle in life.
We often take for granted our home life as kids was considered “normal” even if it wasn’t perfect. Today, few families have both parents at home, or working full-time, increasing the likelihood they will end up in a disadvantaged environment. Morgan County’s poverty rate is 10.5%, however, poverty among children under 18 living in our community is 15.5%.
The solution to any problem is acknowledging there is an issue and finding effective ways to tackle it head-on.
The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) is spearheading a new effort in partnership with our local schools, and Bradford Woods. CFMC believes every child deserves a chance to be successful in life, no matter their circumstance.
Last year, we kicked off a lunch mentoring program with over 50 community leaders spending their time with kids at Wooden Middle School. After just the first informal lunch session, we found our kids are struggling with bullying, sex and drug abuse in their homes, cutting and other emotional issues, hunger, and even fresh drinking water. Mentors learned not much has changed since we were young as many students felt alone, and not part of the “in” crowd. What makes matters much worse today is social media and online sites have increased the level of stress and anxiety kids feel about simply fitting in or being “cool”.
“Mentors help our students understand they’re not alone and life is all about handling what comes at us. Therefore, life is about developing coping skills, so we can successfully handle issues, pressures and opportunities that come our way. Mentors help students learn how to COPE,” said Eric Bowlen, Principal at John R. Wooden Middle School.
When these kids go to school, their family issues follow them, making it harder for them to effectively learn and often interrupting a teacher’s ability to teach and manage the classroom. Overcoming life’s obstacles for these students adds another layer of complexity, and schools need our help.
This year, CFMC is leading the way again through its Mentoring Program in connecting solid, trustworthy adults with our kids to ensure no one “slips through the cracks” at school. Our community must help itself and it starts with each one of us becoming more involved. “i” make a difference because each of us has something to give back!
Become a CFMC School Mentor. You can change a student’s life for the better by being someone they can trust, and who can teach them how to successfully overcome life hurdles. You don’t have to be perfect! None of us have been able to escape all the pain life often hands to us, but we’ve survived. That’s how you can relate to these kids. You can give them hope for a brighter future. Never underestimate the impact you can have on a kid by just caring about who they are at that moment.
“After one of the lunch sessions, a kid came up and sat with me. He said he didn’t have any friends at school and hated coming to lunch. He said he looked forward to coming to mentoring days because he’d have someone to talk to and didn’t feel so alone,” said Ed Kominowski, CFMC President.
John R. Wooden Middle School (Martinsville) and Paul Hadley Middle School (Mooresville) have mentoring opportunities available now. Mentors attend training at either school to learn from the “top teachers” on how to engage with the students.
After training, mentors will be partnered with a teacher who will provide topics and questions in advance each month. Mentoring can happen any day of the week and is scheduled for 25-35 minutes. You can choose to either mentor once a month or every week.
Mentors are asked to commit their time for a full year as it takes time to build relationships, establish trust, and sow into the lives of students who are at risk of failing, not only in school, but also possibly in life.
We’ve been given the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of today’s students and future generations.
For more information on where and when to sign up as CFMC Mentor, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765-813-0003.