The Starke County Youth Club is in need of volunteers, and Executive Director Irene Szakonyi said it’s easy to make a different in the life of a young adult. Volunteer mentors – or coaches – play a vital role in reaching out to young adults, and the strong connection that forms helps to make a difference in their life.
Szakonyi explained that coaches can make a healthy connection by listening to their buddy’s concerns, doing activities that their buddy likes to do, and forming a relationship that is often more effective than interacting with teachers, parents, or other adults. The main goal is about starting a friendship and providing a level of guidance to allow each buddy to reach their full potential.
“We’ve actually been really fortunate to have students come back to tell us what it has meant for them to be involved with our staff or our volunteers. Even just one from this summer came back and said, ‘You know, I wasn’t sure that I had leadership capability, and after working with one of your staffers this summer, I really see my own potential in a different way,’ and really had a better sense of hope or excitement about their own future, thanks to working with our friends, mentors, and staff,” said Szakonyi.
Szakonyi explained that each mentor strengthens the support network for the organization and improves the life of a youth.
“The more adults who care about and commit time to the students at Youth Club, the stronger the network of support for those kids is. Even if it’s having a mentor to listen to their buddy’s worries or concerns or help them with homework, every one of those relationships really helps solidify a kid’s sense of self-esteem and value and lets the kid feel like they matter, and that they have a future story that’s important for them,” Szakonyi explained.
To become a mentor, applicants must complete a background check prior to being connected to a SCYC student, and must also complete an interview with a staff member. Mentors meet with their buddies for one to two hours per month at a SCYC location of their choice, and may talk to their buddy about class, do homework, read together, or any activity that their buddy would enjoy.
By giving only one to two hours per months, anyone is capable of making a difference in a young adult’s life.