Mercer Mentors Program Gives All Participants A New Slant On Things
Making a difference can be as easy as having lunch, says Amy Riley, school counselor at Mercer County Intermediate School.
“There is a tangible way to make a difference in Mercer County,”’ said Riley. “Mercer Mentors is a program that can help make a difference in a child’s life and only requires 20 minutes a week.”
Students at Mercer Elementary, Intermediate and King Middle are paired with adults who offer companionship, accountability and a stable relationship.
“Being there to ask about their day and care about them really makes a difference in their life,” said Riley. “I have seen painfully shy kids come out of their shell and having a positive role model spend time helps improve life skills in general.”
Riley says she has a waiting list for mentors and she needs community volunteers to match with students.
Being a mentor is about helping children in the community, but Jack Coleman says there are benefits for the mentor too.
“In 2011 when I first started being a mentor, I was not in a good place,” said Coleman, who represented the 55th District—which includes Mercer County—in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1991 to 2004 and recently resigned from the Harrodsburg City Commission. “The lumber yard had just shut down and I wasn’t in a situation where I thought I could help anyone.”
Coleman said mentoring helped him start focusing on something outside his own problems.
“I felt like I was given a second chance to make a difference,” said Coleman. “We bonded and have maintained a relationship outside the school mentorship program still to this day.”
Coleman’s situation is unique because most of the mentorship pairs stay in school with no contact outside school grounds. Coleman grew up with the family of his match, Khalil Yates.
In March 2014, Yates wrote an article for the Harrodsburg Herald titled, “My Best Friend, My Hero” about his friendship with Coleman.
“Having Jack as my mentor has been a blessing and I hope he will continue to be there for me as I continue to grow,” he wrote.
The two remain close to this day, Coleman said.
He and Yates since started a small lawn business and they do a lot free service to the community through Harrodsburg Christian Church Mission First program.
“I still mentor with the schools. Sometimes it’s an easy match and sometimes it is not,” said Coleman. “My first match grew into something grand, but even if the others do not, I still think it is a chance to help the future by being there for the kids.”
For more information about Mercer Mentors, contact Amy Riley at [email protected].
For more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.