YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Melanie Ross and dozens of other mentors met at Choffin Career and Technical Center on Monday night to learn how to become a better mentor, all part of the Community Connectors program.
The Youngstown Business and Education Community Connectors (YBECC) is funded by a grant through the State of Ohio’s Community Connectors initiative, designed to provide students with internships, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities. The Youngstown City School District, which enacted the program locally, is promoting hopefulness and workforce readiness among the student body involved in Community Connectors.
Ross said having a mentor is important to student success.
“It’s important to me to give them what was instilled in me, to give them a chance,” she said.
One of the speakers, Ronald King, talked to the group about the difference in mentoring today’s youth.
“One of the biggest challenges that I think that any mentor is going to have with mentoring today’s students is understanding who they are and where they are,” he said.
King says it is important for mentors to find a way to relate to their mentees, so that they see them as a positive influence.
“We have so many kids who not only need help, but believe it or not, we have a lot of kids that want help,” he said. “They really want guidance. They want direction. They want to believe in their future.”
The program’s director, Loisjean Haynes-Paige, said she hopes mentors walk away from the meeting knowing how to communicate and connect with teens.
“A lot of our young people do not have anyone to talk to or to relate to,” she said.
And that is the reason Ross was at this meeting.
“I had the opportunity to be loved by the entire neighborhood in my age group. The next generation, they don’t have that opportunity,” Ross said.
The goal is to match 100 juniors and seniors with mentors in the community to give them internships and teach the importance of having a positive character. Partners in the initiative include the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, City of Youngstown, Eastern Gateway Community College an ACTION. Participating schools include Chaney and East high schools and Choffin.
“It takes a village to raise a child, so we’re all kicking in so we can be there for our young people here in Youngstown,” Haynes-Paige said.
To become involved as a mentor, contact Loisjean Haynes-Paige at 330-744-8759.
Another training session for mentors, mentees and parents will be held November 23.