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Collaboration brings growth for Mentoring Program

How do you continue to positively impact students with empowering life skills training when your mentoring efforts that were mostly based in schools have pretty much been locked down due health concerns that stem from a pandemic?

“We’re just kind of shaking trees with other organizations who also help kids and saying, ‘This is what we do,’ ‘This is how we can help kids,’ and ‘How can we work together to help kids?’ ” said FYI Mentoring Program Co-Director Julie Driskill. “I am really excited about all of these new opportunities.”

Among those “new opportunities” is a budding collaboration with the CoHatch Marketplace in downtown Springfield. FYI is also working with the Department of Jobs and Family Services’ Children’s Services, Global Impact STEM Academy and Project Jericho on possible future collaborations.

Add these to an already established partnership with the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center that began the fall of 2019 and it’s easy to see that the direction God is taking FYI is not only towards schools but also outside their walls.

FYI’s agreement with CoHatch for meeting space gives it another presence in downtown Springfield. The Parenting Network has already had an office in Springfield for years. Now the Mentoring Program’s footprint is expanding there as well.

The CoHatch program launched Tuesday. FYI rents out a conference room and will begin with an eight-week group session. The focus will be on getting the group through the PATH curriculum that has been used for several years in the Tecumseh Locals Schools with great success. The Path Experience works as a tool, a clarifying process that helps one manage, navigate, and lead their best lives. It is designed to help kids develop a mission statement, a vision statement, and an action plan that is in perfect alignment with their gifts and talents.

After that, FYI will be referring kids to a one-on-one relationship with one of our volunteer mentors.

“Mental health throughout COVID has really been challenged,” said Mentoring Program co-Director Bryan Moore. “This is giving kids a safe place to come to where they can express mental health concerns in a judgment free environment.”

The need for the CoHatch meeting space was partially necessitated by referrals coming through collaborations outside the school building.

“They are starting to refer kids to us who they know need relationship help,” Driskill said.

Also, a growing impact is being made by new Mentoring Program staff member Stefan Swanson.

“We’re starting to get more kids from the Springfield City Schools system,” said Driskill. “Stefan has been building relationships with kids in Springfield, and that’s creating some referrals already. Then the kids we are working with are good recruiters, too.”

This is already having a cumulative effect.

“The best thing is that we have more parental engagement,” said Moore. “What Stefan is doing is reaching out to the parents and working through them and getting them engaged with what we are doing. Then we’re able to share other FYI resources from our other programs with these parents.

“You can talk about all of the negatives like not getting into the schools right now because of COVID, but we just have to be more resilient,” he said.

The next step is getting more volunteer mentors and getting them certified in child abuse prevention training, an FYI requirement for all who work with kids. If you are interested in coming alongside as a valuable guide and encourager, give us a call at (937) 845-0403.

Driskill is in her fourth year in the Mentoring Program and second year as its director. She is excited about its continued growth despite the current COVID environment.

“I think we have honed our message; we know what our wheelhouse is,” she said. “We are starting to network and are seeing really good examples of success. We are all realizing we need each other.

“When COVID hit, we knew we had to get creative,” Driskill continued. “We are different. Where we really want to grow is helping kids to be more self-aware. To get them into a pathway that they like, so they can get a mentor or an internship; showing them where those opportunities are.”

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