New program will find roll models for children

Carson's new mentoring program will be steered by the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada and modeled after the Big Brother-Big Sisters of America Inc.

The Carson City Community Council on Youth and members of the Mentoring 2000 task force chose the Boys & Girls Club over the Children's Museum and the Ron Wood Family Resource Center to act as the administrator for the program.

The council on youth doesn't create and run different programs, board member Linda Lang said, so they needed to find a local agency through which to funnel funds and to help hire a mentoring director.

Lang said the Boys & Girls Club was chosen partially because of their good community track record. They also stated a specific time line to start the program in their proposal as well as a plan to return to the community organizations that committed funds to the project and update them on how their money was used.

Community members spearheaded by the Community Council on Youth and The Mentoring 2000 Task Force of the Carson City and Douglas County Leadership Alumni, started in October looking for community support to start the program. Their efforts led to Carson City, the Carson-Tahoe Hospital board of trustees and the Carson City School Board pledging $15,000 a year for two years to help kick-start the program. Western Nevada Community College committed in-kind cooperation by donating office space and supplies.

The Community Council on Youth also received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for $90,400 targeted at decreasing youth alcohol and substance abuse. Lang said about $58,000 is earmarked for a mentoring program, which aims to pair children with a caring adult from the community.

Cathy Blankenship, Boys & Girls Club executive director, said if it's one thing the club knows about, it's kids. She said she knew there was a need for a mentoring program before the leadership alumni got everyone involved.

"We will select the different programs that work in Carson City."

"We already know where the needs are," Blankenship said. "We have kids we want to get into the program, and we're sitting on other referrals. We know there's a lot of need out there. The more difficult part will be narrowing it down to what kids we can initially select."

To start, about 100 kids will be placed in a one-on-one mentoring situation. Blankenship said the club is applying for affiliate status with Big Brother-Big Sisters, a national club that has been in the mentoring business for about 100 years. The move will give the local mentoring program name recognition and will allow the youth club to pick and choose from 25 different types of mentoring programs which target specific groups of youth.

"The nice thing about running this for the last 100 years is that (Big Brother-Big Sisters) knows what to do and what not to do," Blankenship said.

Blankenship said Nevada's transient nature creates an atmosphere often not good for children. Children in transient families often deal with such things as alcohol and gambling addictions, and eventually the problems a family deals with alone filter into a community, she said.

"There are a lot of reasons why people move to Carson City," she said. "There's a quality of life here you don't get in larger metro areas, but we're starting to see the impacts of (large metro areas) here, with things like kids shooting each other. We're seeing the impacts of urban America coming into our community. There are so many things that happen in a day where kids don't get the time and respect of an adult. A mentor can be a role model or a can a sounding board. If there's somebody there who will listen, maybe that will keep a child on the right track."

Six applicants, all from Western Nevada, will be interviewed Saturday for the mentoring director position by the Community Council on Youth, Blankenship and Mentoring 2000 Task Force members.

If all goes well, the program could have its director soon and its doors open by April 1, Lang said.


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