Follow link to story in Neosho Daily News:
(story from fourstateshomepage.com by Eric Crosswhite)
NEOSHO, MO.--- Bright Futures volunteer and parent, Mike Spiva, knows how important a role model can be to a child.
"It never ceases to amaze me how many kids need someone that will just come out, spend some time with them as a friend," states Mike Spiva, Bright Futures Volunteer.
Spiva isn't alone, Neosho Bright Futures coordinators are training community members to be mentors at the middle school level.
"They respond differently to having a 'Lunch Buddy.' So, we're gearing it more towards mentoring and having somebody come in and help children that maybe just need a little extra attention or guidance," states Jonathan Russell, Bright Futures Chairman.
The new program is designed for kids, ages 11 to 14, who may be having a difficult time at home.
"We're dealing with children where their parents are going through a divorce or they have an ill parent, or even an incarcerated parent," says Russell.
Organizers will be choosing children based off of teacher recommendations and assigning them a mentor to have lunch with once a week.
"Especially with the young men that need a male role model in their life, it makes a huge difference. Let's them know they have value, worth, and someone is interested in their well being," states Russell.
Bright Futures coordinators say it's important for the volunteer role models to be consistent, because in most cases, it will take the children a number of lunches to warm up to you.
"It's just really important to stick with it and it's actually much more rewarding for the mentor than it is for the child. It is a great way to get involved and it's so rewarding," states Russell.
There are 7 mentors signed up so far to help at the middle school. They say every child deserves to have a support system.
"Someone they can look up to as a role model and someone they can just discuss things with as a friend, I think is important, other than a parent," states Spiva.
Program coordinators are currently running background checks and filing the necessary paperwork. They hope to be assigning mentors within the next week. If you are interested in being a role model at the Neosho Middle School, click here.