by April Scheinoha
January is National Mentoring Month, and the Little Brother/Little Sister Program of Pennington County is looking for your help. Currently, seven kids are waiting for mentors through the program.
Adult mentors commit to meeting with youth for four hours per month for 12 months. Youth may be nominated for the program by teachers, parents or others. They may also decide that they would like a mentor and apply to be a part of the program. LBLS serves youth ages 4 to 18.
Coordinator Melora Bergee noted there is a stigma that the program only serves at-risk youth. It serves children seeking or needing an adult mentor.
Adult mentors apply to participate. A background check is conducted, and references are also checked. An interview is conducted, and mentors are also required to complete training, which mentors are able to complete at home.
Currently, there are 14 pairs matched through the program.
This January marks the third anniversary of the restart of the program. “I feel that all of the kids we’ve had in the program have done phenomenally,” Bergee said.
Bergee is also grateful for the community support provided to the program. She noted businesses have hosted activities for LBLS and provided financial contributions.
Applications to become an adult mentor or youth participant are available at http://trfcommunityed.registryinsight.com/program-information. Applications are also available at the School District Service Center, 230 LaBree Ave. S.
LBLS also operates the Caring on Patrol for Students (COPS) program. Through that program, law enforcement meets with selected students one-on-one during the school day. “We try for once a week. They usually go for lunch and recess,” said Bergee, who noted law enforcement officers have also attended school performances and other events in which their matches may be participating.
For that program, students are nominated by their principals, and parental approval is required.
Last year, the program debuted at Challenger Elementary School in Thief River Falls. Bergee reported that a mom said she was getting daily reports of her son fighting at school. Since he started the program, there have been two reports.
COPS currently serves six kids at CES. This year, it expanded to Goodridge Elementary School with Deputies Melissa Larson and David Lovly meeting with the two participants there. Bergee expected that the number of participating deputies may increase after the completion of the justice center.