Mentors who work with school-aged students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley support the agency in its mission of helping youth reach their full potential.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley, a neighborhood-based gathering space designed specifically for youth programs and activities, engages volunteers of all kinds to assist staff. The agency currently is looking for additional mentors, one of its highest-need volunteer roles, said volunteer coordinator Sam Packard.
“When kids match with a mentor and there’s a really good spark there, the kids really look forward to seeing their mentor every week because it’s an adult figure they can count on seeing every week,” Packard said. “We’re looking for reliable role models that can come in and support those kiddos that might not have those role models already.”
The agency asks volunteers to mentor students for a minimum of three months, with a plan to meet weekly for one hour each time. There also is a need for volunteers who will commit to mentoring students for the full school year.
“We want that to be long term so it’s not just another person in their life that’s disappearing,” Packard said. “If there’s people, especially people who are retired, who are looking for something structured or regular, I think that would be a really good fit.”
Mentoring many times is of mutual benefit to the mentor and student, said Packard.
“They get to share common interests or they get to teach them something new,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley serves about 15,000 youth in grades K-12 each year, said Packard, so there are many opportunities for volunteers at the agency.
“With all the things we have going on, it’s hard to say that we would have too many,” she said.
Mentors support students during after-school hours Monday through Friday.
“We try to work around their schedule and we try to match them with a kiddo that will be there at the same time,” Packard said.
Mentors teach students a variety of skills and help them cultivate hobbies, offering wisdom and guidance along the way.
“Sometimes mentors or tutors will sit down and talk about goals with the kids and if they’re meeting regularly, they’ll check in about the progression of their goals,” Packard said.
As positive role models, the volunteer mentors inspire students so they know what can be possible for their futures, Packard said.
“An example is, we had a volunteer come in who likes to scuba dive,” she said. “Some kids might have never heard of scuba diving. The volunteer brought in all their gear.”
Prospective volunteer mentors, who work with students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley’s Appleton branch, undergo background checks and fingerprinting. The role doesn’t require specific experience.
“They help us reach more kids,” Packard said. “Sometimes the kids need a little more attention that day and the staff do their best but they’re taking care of the whole classroom… if they have a mentor they can connect with their mentor one on one.”
To apply as an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer mentor at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley through the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), contact Kara Patterson at 920-832-9360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.