Mentoring Cullman Youth a Worthy Endeavor
CULLMAN – In Cullman we are lucky to have several youth outreach programs that are dedicated to helping children who may be in trouble. Whether it is a child from a broken home or just a child whose parents have to work around the clock to support them, there are many reasons a child may need help, and the volunteers in public schools program (or VIPS) is there to make a difference.
“VIPS is a program where we, as volunteers, go into the elementary schools for an hour, once a week, during the school day and work with at risk students,” said Reginnia Roat, literacy coordinator at The Link of Cullman County.
Recently experienced mentors met with new recruits to help them understand their new roles as mentors.
“The mentor becomes their biggest encourager,” Roat said. “They meet with them each week, and sometimes the teacher sends things with them to work on. So sometimes they work on school work, and sometimes the teacher will say that they just need someone to talk to.”
The mentors for these students are really anything the child needs them to be at that particular time. They range from a study buddy, to a cheerleader, and even helping with behavioral issues that may need attention.
“Whatever that student struggles with, that person just puts in that hour a week to encourage them, and help them to succeed in the classroom and in life,” Roat said.
While the orientation is done for those that signed up early, there is still time to volunteer and help a child this school year.
“We had our orientation, but it is usually three or four weeks before we get our volunteers matched with a child,” said Roat. “So there is still time for those who are interested in the program to get everything done.”
The process for applying is not complicated. A simple form to fill out and a thorough background check, at no cost to the volunteer, is all that’s required. It is a small amount of time to donate, which can make a huge difference to a child who needs it. According to Roat, it is far and away one of the best feelings in the world.
“This will be my 13th year,” Roat said. “I went from one hour at Fairview to the whole day. I spend my whole day on Thursday doing this at Fairview. But to see a child that didn’t have a belief that they could succeed in whatever it might be, and then be able to give them a little bit of extra help and see that light bulb go on. That realization that they can do it, and they just needed that little bit of extra encouragement.”
If you would like to volunteer an hour of your time, at the school of your choice this school year, then please call Reginnia Roat at The Link at 256-775-0028.