Every child can benefit from a positive relationship with a caring adult, regardless of their background or home life, and in the Fort Dodge Community School District, the BRIDGES mentoring program offers that opportunity.
It began in 1994 as a school-based youth program. Now, BRIDGES works to partner students with local adults with whom they can establish positive and encouraging relationships to help them thrive. Participating students range in age from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Students are referred to the program by their teachers, counselors and principals.
"All kids can benefit from having an extra caring adult in their lives, no matter where where they come from or what their background our home life is like," said Corey Moody, mentoring coordinator for the BRIDGES program.
The BRIDGES program has more than 100 active mentors donating one hour of time per week to better the lives of the students they work with, and more mentors are welcome to join, Moody said.
"There is a waiting list of about 20 to 25 kids still waiting to be paired with a mentor," sad Moody.
Anyone can be a BRIDGES mentor, pending a background check. The program currently has college students, retirees, married couples and local business people who serve as mentors.
"It doesn't require anything special," said Moody. "They just have to fill out an application, list personal references and have about an hour a week to give. We have everyone from college aged kids to bankers and lawyers and retirees; they come from all walks of life."
Marcia Main, a retired elementary school teacher in the Fort Dodge Community Schools decided to become a mentor in her retirement years because as a teacher she witnessed first hand just how much the children can benefit from having mentors.
"One of the reasons I got involved is because I had seen them in action in the schools when I taught," she said. "I witnessed the good that came to the kids who worked with mentors. They give them an extra special boost."
Main has worked with four different mentees who are elementary students - the first three have moved out of the district - and she is currently working with a kindergarten girl.
"It helps because I can work with her right in the building when I sub," she said. "We read together and sometimes do little crafty things. It's nice to have that one-on-one time."
Main said she would recommend the program to anyone considering becoming a mentor.
"It's great for anyone who likes to work with kids," she said. "And I have been very impressed with the number of businesses who allow their employees the time to work with the kids. You don't have to do anything special; I'm just happy to spend time with the kids."
Anyone interested in the BRIDGES program may contact Moody at 574-5469.
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org