Vermont Mentoring Month Celebration Takes Place At The Statehouse

COURTESY PHOTO

Mentor pairs and supporters from the JUMP Mentoring Program (Northeast Kingdom Youth Services) in St. Johnsbury, one of 14 mentoring programs from across the state that participated in Mobius’ Mentoring Celebration at the Statehouse, gathered at the Mentoring Month Celebration held Jan. 22: from left, Hunter Lafond, Joe Welch, Frances Flanagan, Dave Cowens, Sarah Sanville, Laurie Emmons, Chase Sanville and Emma Sanville.

MONTPELIER, VT -- Mobius, Vermont's Mentoring Partnership, hosted around 90 mentors, youth mentees, program staff and supporters for a celebratory gathering Jan. 22 at the Vermont Statehouse, to highlight National Mentoring Month festivities in Vermont. Former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, the 2015 Vermont Mentoring Month spokesperson, gave the opening address, and Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a proclamation officially marking January as National Mentoring Month in the state of Vermont. In the afternoon, the Vermont House of Representatives read a Vermont Mentoring Month resolution, ratified by both the House and Senate, and Rep. Leigh Dakin (Windsor-3-1) publicly recognized mentors and mentees on the House floor.

Gov. Shumlin was joined at the podium by 11-year-old Anna Farber, a mentee through Girls and Boyz First in Montpelier, who read the proclamation aloud to the crowd. Before signing the proclamation, the governor gave thanks to all of the mentors and mentees who were present, and recognized the more than 2,500 mentor pairs and nearly 150 mentoring program sites across the state.

In her address, Gov. Kunin highlighted the importance of mentoring and celebrated the power of the connection between an adult mentor and youth mentee. "We know, from experience, that a caring and consistent adult mentor can change a child's life," said Kunin.

"It was wonderful for mentors and mentees to be recognized and appreciated for what they offer our mentoring program," said Sarah Sanville, coordinator of JUMP, a mentoring program of Northeast Kingdom Youth Services in St. Johnsbury. "It was also a great way to raise awareness of mentoring in our state and the positive impact it has on youth that may not normally have a caring adult in their lives."

Participants were also treated to lunch in the statehouse cafeteria by Redstone Commercial Group, a Gold Sponsor for Vermont Mentoring Month, and had the option to go on a guided tour of the statehouse at the conclusion of the event. In total, 15 mentoring programs participated in the event: Barstow Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bennington County; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County; The DREAM Program, Essex FriendCHIPS; Everybody Wins! Vermont, Girls and Boyz First; Howard Center's Community Friends, JUMP Mentoring; King Street Center's Junior Senior Buddies; The Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley; Monkton Mentors, SB Mentoring; United Way of Chittenden County; and Windsor County Partners.

Mobius' Vermont Mentoring Month campaign is made possible by support from Gold Sponsor Redstone Commercial Group, and Media Sponsor Comcast/NBC Universal. National Mentoring Month, now in its 14th year, is a national campaign held each January to thank current mentors and recruit new volunteers. The campaign is spearheaded by the Harvard School of Public Health, and MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership), with support from the Highland Street Foundation.

According to the "Mentoring Effect," a study released in 2014 by MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership), one in three youth in Vermont will enter adulthood without having a formal or informal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. Adult-to-youth mentoring is a proven strategy for encouraging positive youth development. Based on an abundance of national research, having a mentor can enhance a young person's learning skills and help build resiliency and self-control. Youth with mentors are less likely to engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to develop positive relationships with peers and adults, and to grow up to become productive members of society.

Now in its third year as Vermont's Mentoring Partnership, Mobius supports around 150 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites that support 2,500 mentor pairs throughout the state. Mobius partners with the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children, the A.D. Henderson Foundation, and the Vermont Agency of Human Services to provide around $300,000 in funding each year for mentoring programs across Vermont. Mobius also offers technical support to programs, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, and works with programs to lead statewide mentoring initiatives. For more information about Mobius, and mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mobiusmentors.org.

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