In its 9th year, the UWPC Middle School Mentoring Program continues the cause of empowering and encouraging students to become confident, responsible, and positive members of the community through the efforts of volunteer mentors.
When COVID-19 abruptly closed schools in the spring, the importance of maintaining the relationships and supports established by the program were more important than ever, the program transitioned to provide remote mentoring options, including a pen pal project for writing letters and video clips from mentors sending well-wishes to their 8th grade mentees. Remote mentoring opens the door for those who would not normally have the flexibility in their daily schedule to visit the school each week. Current options include:
- Written letters
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Video chats (such as Zoom or FaceTime)
“Although the pandemic has led to significant changes in our program, what remains at the core of our purpose is connecting Pueblo middle schoolers with caring and positive adult role models,” stated Program Coordinator Tanya Simental. “Whether mentoring occurs in-person or online, it is a valuable relationship that cultivates young hearts and minds. Now more than ever, our youth need the extra support and powerful human connection that mentoring provides.”
All remote mentoring options are conducted according to national mentoring standards and every opportunity is taken to ensure that consistent monitoring occurs to safeguard both program mentees and mentors.
Recently, Comcast joined in support of the program by providing a corporate contribution, connectivity resources to ensure equitable access to internet services, and is assisting in further expanding the program’s reach to connect students and mentors with technology-based activities and projects. “COVID-19 and the related stay at home orders put a spotlight on how critical it is to have access to technology and a reliable, high-speed Internet connection,” said Mary Spillane, Director of Community Impact, Comcast Mountain West Region. “We’re proud to support programs like this that help to keep people connected during this unprecedented time.”
Recruitment has begun for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Additional volunteers are needed to fill slots in this rewarding program. Mentor applications are now open and will close December 1. Interested individuals can visit www.pueblounitedway.org/mentor or contact Program Coordinator Tanya Simental at 719-647-0445 for additional details on the program or to apply online.