Mentors help high school students

After a successful pilot program last year, Riverside Educational Center has implemented a mentoring program this year for high school students.

The program is based on the mentor model at Mesa County Partners, which provides training for the new mentors.

Mentors meet a few times a week with local high school students who have received tutoring before at Riverside Educational Center.

Mentors help the students with homework, drive them to sports practices, and provide any other support they may need from an adult — even if it’s just a conversation while shooting hoops.

The program at Riverside began with 10 students last year and has expanded to 15 students this year, most of whom attend Grand Junction High School.

Riverside Co-Executive Director Mary Gonzales said students selected for the program mostly come from single-parent families, in which a parent may be too busy working to help a student after school.

One student is still waiting for a mentor, and Gonzales encourages anyone interested in being a mentor to call 243-4031 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Fred Jones, a mentor at Riverside, said the program is not for kids who have been in trouble, but for kids who want to stay on the right track in high school.

Jones frequently drives his mentee, 16-year-old Aferny Reyes, to basketball, cross-country and track practices because the boy’s mother works two jobs.

He also checks Reyes’ grades and makes sure he’s keeping up in school while Reyes works a nearly full-time job.

“I want him to succeed. I enjoy helping him out and making sure he has every chance to succeed,” Jones said.

“If they (mentees) don’t do well in these four years, it could really impact their lives. We just want to give them every opportunity we can to give them the best experience in high school.”

Reyes, a sophomore at Grand Junction High School, said he enjoys his time in the mentor program and appreciates that Jones takes him to practice, helped him get a phone and helps him out with homework.

“He’s like a second father,” Reyes said.

In addition to recruiting mentors, Riverside Educational Center is looking for volunteers of all kinds at the start of the 2012-13 school year, from tutors to fundraisers to people who can help with office work.

Potential volunteers can use the contact information above to reach the center.


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