Mountain Mentors wanted in Summit County | SummitDaily.com
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Mountain Mentors wanted in Summit County

CAITLIN ROW
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – With an ever-increasing waiting list, Mountain Mentors of Summit County needs 30 new volunteers through June.

The group is a community-based program always working to match caring adult volunteers with interested youth ages 6 to 16. Its mission since 1987 is “to positively influence the youth of Summit County to lead healthy lifestyles, through a consistent one-on-one relationship with an adult.” Mentors must be over 21 years of age and be able to make at least a six-month commitment, eight hours a month.

“We’re trying to get 30 mentors in 30 days,” said Sarah Provino, the Mountain Mentors program manager. “We have 56 kids waiting for a mentor, and we’re still interviewing more. The number rises every day. In 2010, there were more referrals than we had the whole year for 2008.”

Though Provino said she’s not sure why there’s a huge increase in local kids seeking mentors, she hypothesized that “it could be that the program is better known, or parents are working more jobs given the economy.”

“It doesn’t take special skills,” she added. “We match you for your interests, and you just hang out. We want you to be a friend to a kid, be someone they can connect with and talk to, so they can learn and grow. You’re providing them with more experiences. … And it doesn’t have to be your whole Saturday. It can be a couple hours here and there.”

Provino said activities can include anything from hiking, biking, skiing or even walking the dog.

“Anything you do in your every day life, that’s what you can do with your mentee,” she said.

For volunteers who aren’t sure about creating their own activities, Mountain Mentors also provides planned events, like hut trips, rafting, rock climbing, Rockies games and Frisbee.

“It’s fun to watch a kid grow,” said mentor Ann Delahunty, a Park County resident. “One simple day can make a huge difference and spark an interest in a child.”

Delahunty also said scheduled activities “push you to do things you normally wouldn’t do,” like get out on a ropes course.

“These kids don’t get to do some of the things Summit County has to offer because parents are working or don’t know how to access them,” Provino added. “It’s about providing new experiences for kids.”

Cheryl Hayden, a Copper resident without a family of her own, said she got involved with Mountain Mentors to do something extra for her community.

“It’s a good way to get to know folks that you wouldn’t normally meet, and it gives an opportunity for kids to learn about different interests, cultures, and areas in the country,” Hayden said.

For more information about volunteering, call (970) 668-9184 or visit http://www.summitcares.org. Volunteers are required to have a background check, references and they’ll go through an interview process.

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.


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