Just showing up is the most important part of what some 200 adults and high school students do each week. They reach out to help children in the Fayette County Public School System who are struggling academically or socially, in danger of failing their grade, or may not graduate from school.
They are volunteers in the school system’s Friends Mentoring Program who were honored for sharing their time and talents with others during the second annual Friends Mentoring Program Appreciation Breakfast.
Over 60 of the school system’s adult and Hi-Teen mentors attended the breakfast. Those in attendance ranged from volunteers who have been involved for multiple years to those who just started the program this year, such as Superintendent Dr. John DeCotis who mentors at the Fayette County Alternative School.
Although this is his first year as a mentor, DeCotis has always recognized the need and value of the program and has been a major supporter. He told the mentors that the time they spend with children is invaluable.
“Even though you are not getting paid, your value is sky high. You cannot save every child, although that is the goal, but your efforts are important to that child you are working with,” he said.
In honor of his approaching retirement, the Friends Mentoring Advisory Board publicly thanked DeCotis for his support over the years and presented him with a Woodruff Arts gift card.
Mentors are required to go through training and an extensive background check before acceptance into the program. They are asked to commitment to working with a student at school for one hour each week. Volunteers work with students, at all grade levels, who have been identified by their counselors as benefitting from a mentor/student relationship.
Julius Pryor, a mentor at Fayette Middle and advisory board member, summed up what it means to be a mentor and offered a few words of inspiration.
“Listening, encouraging to be better, caring, showing up, empowering, establishing relationships, all of this is what mentors do to build the confidence students need to be successful” Pryor said as he addressed fellow mentors at the breakfast. “We always sell ourselves short, we think we are not capable of doing things that we can do. We don’t know how powerful or how influential we are. We have the ability to make a difference, the only person holding us back is us.”
The mentoring program relies on volunteers and charitable contributions to operate. Immediate needs include volunteers to mentor middle school students throughout the county and elementary students in Fayetteville. The program can also use tax deductable monetary gifts to cover mandatory finger printing for mentors, mentor/mentee breakfasts, and budget shortfalls in the areas of salaries, supplies, printing, postage and recruitment materials.
If you would like to make a donation, please make your check payable to Fayette County Board of Education, with “Friends Mentoring Program” in the memo line, and mail to Fayette County Board of Education, Friends/Mentor Program, 205 LaFayette Avenue, Building D, Fayetteville, GA 30214.
To learn more about the program, contact Jane Gough at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-460-3990, ext. 255.