The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

TeamMates chapter searching for volunteers

Program has 85 mentors, needs 35 more

 

Those volunteering with TeamMates believe that every student can benefit from having a mentor, not just those at risk.

Angie Jacobsen, the Sidney chapter’s program coordinator thinks the largest benefit of taking part in the program herself is having the opportunity to hang out with a young person without any added worries.

“It’s the best part of my week,” Jacobsen said.

This program matches an adult mentor with a child mentee to meet for one hour per week during the school year. The Sidney chapter of TeamMates currently has 85 pairs of mentors and mentees, with another 35 students waiting for a mentor.

“Anyone from the community can volunteer,” said Christine Wamsley, a board member in the Sidney chapter.

Students can ask for a mentor starting in 5th grade and this relationship can last all the way through high school. Mentors are asked to make at least a one year commitment. Adults who volunteer with this program are provided with training, feedback and advice. The goal of TeamMates is to encourage young people to finish high school and pursue a college education afterward.

“I think anything that can support them and answer the need of our youth is a good program,” Wamsley said.

TeamMates was formerly in Sidney and died out, but a group of area residents brought it back in 2011.

This group recruits mentors and mentees through awareness activities like a tailgate before Sidney’s football game last Friday and by sending information home from school. Food at the tailgate was sponsored by Security First Bank & Insurance.

“I think youth are excited about adult contact outside parental contact,” Wamsley said.

Other students see how happy currents mentees are with their mentors and want to be a part of it, she added.

“It gives them the opportunity to have additional influence in their life and ask questions they may not want to ask at home,” Wamsley said.

Kids who are involved in the program might receive more outside support to encourage them to do well in grade school, high school and even into higher education, Wamsley said.

Adults involved in the program get the chance to be more active in the community and get a new perspective on the kids living in Sidney and what they’re really like.

Jacobsen saw the need for a mentor program that was for all students, whether at-risk or not. A student who isn’t at risk at the moment might encounter events or situations that makes them at-risk, Jacobsen said. Adults taking part in the program see benefits of the relationship as well, she added.

“You get to spend time one-on-one with a student and have fun,” Jacobsen said.

Yoselin Parra, a 12-year-old 7th grader, is starting her third year with mentor Kathy Beyer.

Beyer and Parra play games, do crafts and talk during their time together.

“I like it a lot,” Beyer said. “I feel like a part of the school.”

Both Beyer and Parra enjoyed decorating Christmas wreaths together last year.

“I like going to events with my mentor,” Parra said.

Just because a mentor and mentee don’t have the same personality type doesn’t mean they won’t get along, Beyer said.

“I’m an extrovert and she’s an introvert, but we really have a good time,” Beyer said. “It’s been fun.”

The TeamMates Mentoring program is based in Omaha. It was founded by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne in 1991. This program serves more than 5,000 kids in Nebraska and Iowa.

 

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