On April 16, more than 250 mentors gathered to celebrate, learn and reflect at the annual LSS Mentor Appreciation Breakfast.
The morning kicked off with remarks by David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. MENTOR, established 25 years ago, provides technical assistance and training to mentoring organizations and advocates for mentoring across the country.
David began by talking about “Our Kids” by Robert Putnam, in which the author says that efforts to address the opportunity gap must also address the mentoring gap. Shapiro commended LSS for its commitment to closing the gap by growing the program to more than 1,000 mentors in partnership with more than 65 different schools over its 14-year history. From the national perspective, that is “rarified air,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro thanked the school staff for making mentoring happen and understanding that it takes a balance of content and relationship for our young people to thrive and strive. He also referenced a research study entitled “The Mentoring Effect” that suggests that one in three young people are reaching adulthood without the support of a mentor.
“Thanks so much for your role in the mentoring movement,” Shapiro said as he ended his informative presentation. “Let’s continue to tell our story and grow our ranks and help our young people continue to write their stories, stories worthy of their great potential when they know their journey is filled with folks walking beside them.”
LSS President and CEO Betty Oldenkamp thanked school officials who have helped with mentoring who will not be returning to the district next year, including Superintendent Dr. Pam Homan.
Mentors were invited to share what mentoring means to them, and left with a challenge to recruit just one volunteer to help reduce the waiting list of 300 Sioux Falls area students who need a mentor.
LSS is thrilled the event went so well and is thankful for the event sponsors: First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard, Citi, Sanford Health and Wells Fargo.
Community Partner Award: Sanford Health
Sanford employees have generously stepped up taking on students to mentor. There are currently 49 employees actively mentoring through the LSS program, volunteering at 22 different schools. Collectively this group has put in 1,500 hours of mentoring this school year.
Rookie Mentor Award: Mike Mortland
A first-year mentor at Jefferson Elementary, Mike has spent his career working with children as a former teacher and now as a school district program trainer. He possesses qualities that every kid would want in a mentor. He makes learning fun and uses each mentoring moment to teach something new.
Outstand ing Mentor Award: Jeremy Anderson
Jeremy has mentored for five years and is currently matched with a student from Edison Middle School. According to a counselor at Edison, he is “the definition of loyalty” to the students he mentors. Although his mentee has moved around often, even out of Sioux Falls, Jeremy has chosen to commit to this student to prove that not everyone will let him down.
To learn more about LSS Mentoring Services, click here.