Being a kid can be tough, from school work to peer pressure, there's a lot they go through. Being matched with a mentor can help children and youth overcome those obstacles.
January is National Mentoring Awareness Month and some mentor programs in Omaha remind us, there is still a growing need for volunteers.
Girls Inc is one of the locations across Omaha where kids can meet with their mentors after school and get homework help or just play games and have fun. The kids at Girls Inc range from six to 18-years-old.
The idea is mentors will spend time with their match and are there for the children when they are needed. The staff says many of the kids live in tough situations and need another adult role model in their life.
"There are lots of kids, with lots of different organizations, waiting for a mentor, just waiting to a match, we really think that mentoring is a great volunteer opportunity, it's something that both the adult and the child benefit from,” Whitney Mastin said. Mastin is with Midland Mentoring Partnership.
MMP currently has around 3,000 mentor matches in 12 organizations in Omaha. Mastin says there are children currently waiting to be matched with a mentor, and the need for mal mentors is especially strong.
Whether it's Girls Inc or the Boys & Girls Clubs, these programs are always looking for more volunteers, like Tess Larson. Larson has been a mentor in Omaha for six-and-a-half years.
"Watching them grow up from these silly, giddy 12-year-olds up to these young adults who have grown confident and are leaders among their peers has been really just awe, I’m in awe of them,” Larson said.
Currently Larson helps mentor three girls and has been there for them as a friend and as role model. "Whether it’s just doing homework or it's a crazy night out at the pizza machine, it makes a huge difference to them and especially that consistency throughout the years,” Larson said.
Larson has seen first hand the impact a mentor can have on kids because she says, without a mentor the children will have to deal with life’s challenges on their own.
A mentoring conference will be held on January 31st at the Double Tree Hotel in Omaha.