Pinellas County Schools has huge need for mentors
Volunteers can help as little as 30 mins a week
The Pinellas County School District is desperately in need of mentors to help serve as role models in students’ lives. Districtwide there are hundreds of students on waiting lists hoping to be paired up with an adult and a need for up 1,800 volunteers.
One of the mentoring programs badly in need of volunteers is the Girlfriends Group. Tuesday, 30 female Azalea Elementary School students between 2nd and fifth grade joined their mentor, Candace Reed, for lunch at St. Pete Italian restaurant CD Roma.
The idea is to teach the girls manners, table etiquette, and leadership skills. The Girlfriends Club program has just 160 mentors for more than 800 students.
“We need mentors very bad. Our students need extra support and all it takes is one person to be a mentor and change somebody’s life,” Reed explained.
Mentors can volunteer as little as half an hour a week and can mentor in person or virtually. Reed used to serve 10 girls in the Girlfriends Club, but now, she’s helping more than 30.
The girls are learning skills they’ll use long after they graduate. 5th grader Chloe Benton said she’s grateful for the experience.
“She’s really taught us a lot of stuff because some of the girls in here used to eat with their mouths open but now like nobody does that. Ms. Reed has helped us come a long way. I want to be like her when I grow up because she’s a role model,” Benton added with a smile.
“When I go to Girlfriends Club, I feel like I’m understood,” added Destiny Newton. “I think that adults should consider volunteering as a mentor because it makes a difference in a lot of kids’ lives.”
Reed says she sees it as an opportunity to give back to her community in an even greater way.
“I’m supposed to give. I’m supposed to help out and just knowing I make a difference means the world to me,” she said with confidence.
Currently, the Pinellas County School District has 1,531 mentors for 3,371 mentees. A full breakdown is below.
- Take Stock in Children: 580 mentors for 989 mentees
- Lunch Pals: 618 mentors for 809 mentees
- Girlfriends Club: 160 mentors for 809 mentees
- General Mentor Program: 19 mentors for 39 mentees
- Big Brother Big Sisters: 19 mentors for 19 mentees
- 5000 Role Models: 135 mentors for 721 mentees
You can find out more about the mentoring program here: Mentoring Program FAQs. Mentors first need to attend a 60-minute mentor workshop webinar and then they will be paired with a student.
Originally posted on ABC Action News Tampa and shared with permission of Sarah Hollenbeck. Photos by WFTS.