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posted: 8/15/2014 1:08 PM

Catholic Charities Lake County seeks volunteers to be youth mentors

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Catholic Charities of Lake County submission

Catholic Charities Lake County Youth Mentorship Program has made a positive impact on a dozen children, but more mentors are needed before the 2014-15 school year begins.

The program is recruiting at least 10 mentors to work with youth ages 9 to 12 who live in Waukegan or attend Waukegan public schools. Individuals ages 21 or older who can serve as positive role models, encourage good decision-making and have two hours per week to meet with their mentee are strongly urged to apply.

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"Kids who have a mentor are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and more likely to do well in school, avoid harmful behaviors, and have positive attitudes toward their peers and their parents," said Sarah Loffman, Catholic Charities Special Projects coordinator.

"It's also a powerful experience for our adult volunteers, who consistently report that they get just as much out of the program as the mentee."

Mentors are encouraged to seek out low-cost activities to do with their mentee such as playing basketball, working together on school projects, exploring a new ethnic restaurant in the area, grabbing an ice cream cone and going for a walk, or attending free activities in the community.

A Catholic Charities Mentor Program coordinator is there to offer guidance and training, suggest age-appropriate activities, and help mentors develop a strong relationship with their mentee.

Participants also have the opportunity to attend quarterly special events that bring together all mentors and mentees to engage in fun activities, share ideas, and build supportive relationships.

To become a mentor, the following qualifications must be met:

• Be at least 21 years old.

• Commit to a minimum of a one-year relationship, meeting two hours per week.

• Complete a volunteer application, orientation process and mentor trainings.

• Own a car and have a valid Illinois driver's license and proof of insurance (no car sharing programs allowed).

• Must have three years of experience driving with a valid driver's license.

• Be willing to drive up to 30 minutes to pick up your mentee and drive mentee to and from all outings.

• Allow the agency to conduct a thorough Criminal Background and Driving Motor Vehicle Check.

• Be able to participate in regular meetings/phone contacts with a Catholic Charities staff person.

• Bilingual candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

To become a mentor, contact Sarah Loffman at (312) 655-7081 or sloffman@catholiccharities.net, or Laurel Wimpffen at (847) 782-4126 or lwimpffen@catholiccharities.net.

For information about Catholic Charities Mentor Program and other Catholic Charities programs, visit catholiccharities.net.

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