Supervisors review need for mentoring program in Carson

The push to bring a mentoring program to Carson City will make its last funding stop at the city supervisors meeting Thursday.

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.

Ron Kendall, chairman of the Mentoring 2000 Task Force, said the program will take about $150,000 to start.

The Leadership Alumni is asking Carson-Tahoe Hospital, Carson City, the Carson City School Board and Western Nevada Community College to help pick up the initial costs by giving $15,000 a year for two years.

Both the school and hospital boards contributed $30,000, each contingent on support from the other entities. WNCC has responded with in-kind cooperation by donating office space and supplies. Money from supervisors will allow supporters to begin looking for someone to direct the program.

At their last meeting, supervisors opted not to spend $77,000 to fund a youth violence prevention program proposed by Mayor Ray Masayko, including the the mentor program. But supervisors asked that it return for more consideration.

"I can't believed they'd put us on the agenda and then turn us down," Kendall said.

The money would come from the city's contingency fund, which is down to about $112,000 for the rest of the year.

Kendall and other community members argue that while Carson City has several programs offering mentoring in one form or another, a center with a full-time director to coordinate programs is necessary to help troubled youth. More important, many children in Carson City need an extra, caring adult in their life.

"All kids want is someone who has a little bit more time, someone who can be a friend, a sounding board, someone they can tell all of their success stories to," said Cathy Blankenship, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada. "Mentoring teaches a lot of life skills, too. Sadly, there are some kids who've never been to the library. A mentor can take them and say, 'Let's get you a library card.' It's the understanding for kids that there is a positive role model."

Blankenship said of the 1,500 kids who frequent the club about half of them could use a mentor. She said it was important for children to have one-on-one attention with an adult who could reinforce some of the things their parents tell them, yet be a friend at the same time.

"Making a good connection with a child lets them know an adult can be trusted," she said. "So many kids think adults are there to be mean and make rules. You have to have someone show them the other side."

Mentoring 2000 committee member Joan Zadny, president of the Soroptimist International of Carson City, said the mentoring program is one of the best ways an adult could choose to make a difference.

"The mentoring program is a way for caring, interested individuals in our community to give their time one-on-one to students who may not have positive role models in their lives or to students with parents who don't have the time for them," Zadny said. "The relationship is a bonding experience between adults and children with endless possibilities for growth, self esteem, trust and friendship. There are so many children who don't have a good example. A good mentor relationship can change a child's life for the better."


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