Many families have gotten their new supplies and clothes, but an organization in Omaha wants children to start the school year with a mentor too. The Midlands Mentoring Partnership announces its second annual recruitment campaign Wednesday at UNO.
The 11 organizations that make up Midlands has about 3,000 mentor/mentee matches across the metro, but they're aiming to sign up at least 600 more mentors in August to really help kids for the beginning of the school-year.
“You have someone who can coach you, direct you, give you some advice, someone you can talk to that can let you know some things that you cannot traditionally find in a book,” said mentor Ed Stevens, a businessman who mentors 16-year-old twin brothers.
"I think it's a good opportunity for them to learn," said 10th-grader Tynatamen Walker. "My mentor teaches me a lot of things that I didn't know about and it's good to learn new things every day."
There are several characteristics Midlands looks for in mentors.
A mentor should be a good listener who can bond with students and someone who is trustworthy and reliable. Mentors are only required to meet with kids four hours a month, so building trust in that time is key. A mentor also needs to be open and willing to share their experiences and challenges. Finally, someone who will take the initiative and plan fun outings to take kids places they've never been.
Stevens has taken his students to museums and supports them at their basketball games. They also just sit and chat about what's going on at school and planning for the future.
"You get to meet new people here and like you get to see a lot of stuff you wouldn't get to see if you didn't have a mentor," said Tyglenn Walker.
"I think there are a number of people out there in the community who have gifts and talents and the young men and young ladies would appreciate them supporting it and just letting them know that they can do it," said Stevens.
The Walker twins also made a deal with Stevens. If they get all A's and B's, he'll take them to their first NBA game.
If you're interested in becoming a mentor, visit mmpomaha.org.