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Foundation hosts Mentors rally

The Kesler Mentoring Connection is pleased to be a part of National Mentoring Month, a month long campaign dedicated to recruiting mentors for America's youth in January. National Mentoring Month was established in hopes of raising awareness about mentoring. January is dedicated to recruiting individuals in the community to mentor and promote the rapid growth of mentoring in our community and across the nation. National Mentoring Month, lead by the Harvard University Mentoring Project, is a concentrated effort to bring awareness to the important and increasing need for volunteers to mentor young people in our community.

Studies have shown that mentoring is highly effective in preventing several key problems that face young people today. Research has shown that introducing a mentor into a child's life can have a powerful impact. Mentoring helps to prevent drug abuse and youth violence while greatly enhancing a young person's prospect for leading a fulfilling and productive life.

Kesler Mentoring Connection is supporting this national effort by partnering with the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation to host Mentors Make A Difference Rally on January 16, 2002 from 11:02 a.m. to 1:02 p.m. at ALLTEL Stadium West Club. The rally will include lunch and program with testimonies from a current mentor and a child waiting for a mentor. The program will conclude with a call to action plea by Ian Hill, entrepreneur, mentoring advocate and National Counsel for Community and ustice "Humanitarian of the Year." Hill is nationally recognized for his "commitment to change in the community" and will speak about how mentoring made a difference in his life.

The time of the event ends with the number "2" for two reasons. The number 2 is part of the Mentoring Connection's tagline "discover the power of two." Also, the agency will also announce the "502 by 5/02 Campaign: 502 New Mentors by May 2002" to Northeast Florida businesses, service organizations, media, churches and government agencies.

"The need for mentors is great in our community, but the challenge to recruit enough volunteers for children on waiting lists is even greater," said Lucretia D. Simmons, director of community outreach for the Kesler Mentoring Connection. "Some children have been on waiting lists for a year or longer. The rally will be an opportunity for the community to become familiar with the mentoring opportunities, understand what needs to be done and act on it. Our young people are waiting for someone to make a commitment to make a difference."

Guests will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from mentoring programs: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Baptist Health "Tipping the Scale," Take Stock In Children, Emergency Pregnancy Services, First Coast Family Center (Orange Park and Beaches), Jailed Juvenile Mentoring Program and Scholars In Schools to learn more about their specific programs. Furthermore, participants will be encouraged to register for a free mentor training with the Kesler Mentoring Connection.

"Five hundred new mentors in five months can make a significant difference in addressing the current critical shortage of mentors in our community," said Tayloe White, program director for the Kesler Mentoring Connection. "The Mentoring Connection averages about 100 inquiries a month. Imagine if each of those inquiries became actual mentors. Mentoring programs could make a big dent in their waiting lists and young people's lives could be changed."

Many companies like First Union National Bank, The Vestcor Companies, CSX Transportation and a number of state government agencies like the Department of Revenue and Department of Environmental Protection have leave policies that allow their employees one to two hours a week to mentor at nearby schools.

"Mentoring has a positive impact on the individuals, as well as their company," said Deborah S. Pass, president/ceo of ATS Services and chairperson for the Kesler Mentoring Connection Board of Directors. "Employees that mentor show an increase in their work productivity and have better relationships with coworkers. Furthermore, they also show a sense of loyalty to their company for being given this opportunity. Employees know they are making a positive impact in the community."

In addition to recruiting mentors during this month of celebration, the Kesler Mentoring Connection and the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation will also recognize current mentors for the difference they are making in the lives of children at the Mentors Make a Difference Celebration on January 16, 2002 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at ALLTEL Stadium West Club.

Four mentors will be recognized with mentoring appreciation awards from the Delores Pass Kesler Foundation and the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation for the significant impact they have made in the lives of their protégés (mentored youth). The protégés of the four mentors will be there to help present the awards. "Throughout my life I have come to recognize how important a relationship with a caring adult is to a child," said Delores Pass Kesler, Founder of Kesler Mentoring Connection.

"This relationship helps define the values, ambitions, hopes and potential happiness in each of these children's lives. This celebration during National Mentoring Month is our chance to show mentors in our community how much they are appreciated and to let them know they do really make a difference in the lives of youth." The Kesler Mentoring Connection is dedicated to helping mentoring programs in Northeast Florida provide mentors for youth in our community. Our entire community benefits when our youth our prepared for the future ahead of them.

"The Jaguar's Foundation knows first hand the importance of the work of the Kesler Mentoring Connection," said Delores Barr Weaver, co-owner of the Jaguars and chair/ceo of the Jaguars Foundation. "Time and time again, youth participating in the Foundation's Honor Rows program speak of the importance of their mentor's support. Indeed, having a mentor helps children do better at school and at home, and gives them a positive role model as they prepare for adulthood."

Kesler Mentoring Connection serves as the mentoring resource center for more than 20 mentoring programs in Northeast Florida. The Kesler Mentoring Connection is not another not-for-profit organization that competes with existing agencies for the same limited resources. Instead, it is the largest collaboration ever of human service agencies and programs in our community designed to increase the quantity and enhance the quality of mentoring relationships and programs in Northeast Florida.

The Kesler Mentoring Connection combines services such as recruiting, training and screening new mentors within a single agency, allowing mentoring programs that directly serve children to concentrate on what they do best: manage and support the relationships between young people and caring mentors.


Lucretia D. Simmons, Kesler Mentoring Connection
Peter Racine, Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation
Office Phone: (904) 224-1498 Office Phone (904) 633-5437

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