About an hour a week can make a tremendous difference in the life of a teen, Goodwill Industries-Suncoast officials say about a mentoring program they are launching.
The recruiting of volunteer mentors for the Youth 2 Professional program has begun, said Chris Ward, marketing and media relations manager for the St. Petersburg-based Goodwill organization. Volunteers for some 110 students are needed in Pasco and Hernando counties.
"Studies have shown that young people are much more likely to succeed if they have a mentor to guide them," Ward said.
Another goal is to "help people stay off welfare with some training," Ward said last week. "This will give them a little extra help to succeed in these programs, which could make all the difference for the rest of their lives."
The goal is to break down barriers that may make it more difficult for students to complete their education, Ward said. A student might have a learning disability, for example.
The mentoring program will concentrate on students in nursing, office and administration, and technical support.
Mentors from those fields will team up with juniors and seniors in career academies and technical education programs. Participating Pasco schools are Marchman Technical Education Center, and Anclote, Gulf and Zephyrhills high schools, Ward said.
The adult advisers will offer guidance to teens and help them complete career and technical education programs.
Volunteers will spend at least four hours a month with a student through a combination of scheduled group activities and phone or online contact.
Goodwill officials chose National Mentoring Month in January to launch the local program.
Potential mentors should sign up this month, Ward said. Training starts in February. Career Central and Goodwill will administer the program.
Goodwill Industries-Suncoast was founded in St. Petersburg in 1954. It is one of the largest Goodwill organizations in the world. Career Central, sponsored by the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board, provides services to employers and employees.
To learn more about being a youth mentor, contact Haydee Castro at (727) 484-3419 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.