Making A Difference by Volunteering One Lunch Hour, Once a Week

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Just One Lunch Hour a Week Can Make a Difference
Spotlight on MetroMentors’ Volunteer John Perry

When John Perry originally set out to volunteer with the MetroMentors youth mentoring program, he thought he could help make a difference by tutoring kids. The impact John has had over his five years in the program has gone far beyond homework help. “You can see it in the eyes of a child, when he comes in with a big smile, has social skills and is doing well in school.”

MetroMentors offers professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships between caring adults and elementary or middle school children. The program offers positive adult role models to improve a child’s self-esteem, social skills, academic achievement and positive life choices.

According to John, a retired village administrator and father of two, now-grown sons, “MetroMentors offers kids the opportunity to see themselves and their future in a positive way. During my career in public service (and as a parent), I was regularly reminded of the importance of youth having opportunities to grow and develop into contributing community members. “

John spends one hour a week at Edgewood Elementary School in Woodridge with his mentee who just turned 12. The child’s mother works hard and felt her son could benefit from the extra support of a male mentor in his life. Each week, John and his mentee get together at the school to eat lunch, play games, work on homework, or just talk. “We talk about whatever,” John said.

He and his mentee have been matched for three years. “The experience has been rewarding for me,” said John. “I look forward to the time that I spend each week with my mentee. The experience has really driven home the importance of having a relationship in one’s life that is steady and caring.”

John’s contact with Metropolitan Family Services dates back to the 70s, when he was Village Administrator of Park Forest and Metropolitan provided human services there. Then, in the early 90s as Village Administrator of Woodridge, John reconnected with Metropolitan DuPage and helped start the Community Resource Center in Woodridge to provide after school activities for children.

John has been a mentor to four teens since he began volunteering with the program five years ago. Because there always is a need for more mentors—especially male mentors—at times John has had more than one mentee. He encourages other adults to get involved in MetroMentors: “If every adult could help one child, we could make a difference for children growing up today.”

Click here to volunteer with MetroMentors.

Interview with MentroMentor Chris Coyle

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Chris Coyle, a mentor with Metropolitan Family Services MetroMentors program gives insight on his experience in the feature below. Click here if you are interested in becoming a MetroMentor.

How did you get involved in the MetroMentors Program?

A friend from church told him about the MetroMentors Program. I live within 7 miles of the area I mentor in and wanted to help the community. My daughter is about the same age as the student I mentor and it is another inside look at what’s going on in their generation. It’s interesting to see that some things are universal and others are not, when my family only lives a few miles away from this area.

What do you think are the most important characteristics to have as a mentor?

Reliability & consistency. There is such an excitement in the students as they walk in & hope to see their mentor. For some of these kids, whatever their home life, knowing that there is someone who comes all the way to see just them, for only an hour a week gives them a sense of value and the attention they need. A mentor is someone who is just there for them – it makes a difference to that one kid.

Explain your mentoring experience. 

I have been a mentor with MetroMentors for about a year and a half. My mentee is in the seventh grade. We meet after school with our MetroMentors group and participate in a variety of activities from working on homework, computers, crafts, sports, group games or having one-on-one time discussions focused on what my mentee would like to talk about; his feelings, home/school life, issues, etc. I have noticed my mentee progress over the time we have spent with one another as he is now much more open and real. He has learned that one does not always have to be competitive and to appreciate someone else doing something good by celebrating another’s accomplishment.

How is MetroMentors special/unique?

Many people think of mentoring as a more of some thing that is restricted to an outcome or a performance based thing. MetroMentors has a less defined agenda & is more about listening and interacting to give kids their hour to shine & spend quality time spent with an adult.

Why should others get involved in MetroMentors?

MetroMentors is really fun and rewarding!  Mentoring isn’t a time-consuming activity and you learn things from the students as well as them learning from you. The students are very appreciative as well as the schools and parents. In some way you are making a difference in someone’s life.

Make a World of Difference – Become a MentorMentor