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January is National Mentoring Month. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, mentoring is a critical component in young people’s lives, helping them make decisions and connections that lead to opportunity.

TrueNorth Community Services couldn’t agree more, and has offered adult to child mentoring services since its inception in 1972. Through the TrueMentors program, TrueNorth offers one-on-one mentoring and currently has 16 active matched pairs and 22 children on a list awaiting a mentor.

The TrueMentors pairings include Donna and Alicia. They were first matched in March 2018, when Alicia was an 8-year-old second grader. They, along with Donna’s granddaughter, Savannah, have become like a little family. They enjoy each other’s company and learn life lessons through shared experiences and play.

Donna first heard about TrueMentors at a presentation by Newaygo Police Chief Georgia Andres, a TrueMentors advocate. She wanted to “help provide experiences to a younger girl who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to have” and to show her granddaughter what it means to be there for others. Savannah, a 13-year-old who attends Northern Discovery School, says she loves being a junior mentor.

Alicia wanted a mentor because she wanted another place to feel like home. She loves her family, but felt frustrated because her dad lives out of state and her Mom is often busy with work and her brother, who has autism.

Alicia, Donna and Savannah enjoy doing things together, including attending plays, church, going to birthday parties, camping, swimming, fishing, bowling, karate, basketball, visiting the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, shopping at thrift stores, and stopping in at Donna's antique shop.

Donna says being a mentor has re-engaged her enjoyment of children and be more open about friendships with people she is unfamiliar with. She’s seen much growth in Alicia, pointing to her singing again after a couple years not doing so.

“After talking with Alicia, I took her and my granddaughter, Savannah, to the local café for an open mic night. That night, Alicia decided she was going to sing and she did it,” Donna said. “Alicia only sings when she is comfortable with people in the room, but she says that is how she knows she trusts those around her.”

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor to a Newaygo County child is encouraged to contact Lisa Brown, TrueMentors Program Director, at (231) 924-0641, ext. 109, or lbrown@truenorthservices.org.

The highlight days for National Mentoring Month include:

  • January 8 – I Am a Mentor Day
  • January 17 – International Mentoring Day
  • January 20 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service
  • January 30 – #ThankYourMentor Day
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