Windsor public schools seeking new mentoring volunteers

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Feb. 12, 2014
Mentor Joan and her mentee, Adrienne, spend lunch together once a week. Here Adrienne is assembling a craft Joan brought along. Photo by Jennifer Coe.
Mentor Joan and her mentee, Adrienne, spend lunch together once a week. Here Adrienne is assembling a craft Joan brought along. Photo by Jennifer Coe.

The Windsor Public Schools Mentoring Program is looking for a few good volunteers. This program, which has been in existence for many years, has been pairing up willing adults with kids who need an extra helping hand, or just some added encouragement.

“We have a dedicated core group of mentors in Windsor public schools, but we need more adults who can give as little as a half-hour a week to make a positive difference in the life of a child,” said co-coordinator, Maureen Bilotta. “There always is a need for a caring adult in a child’s life, and it takes very little to be an effective mentor.”

Bilotta says that they aren’t looking for people with doctorates or special talents, just people willing to serve and give their time to children.

“A mentor needs to be willing to play games or pursue other mutual interests and mostly, be there to listen; simply listen to the student,” said Bilotta. “You don’t need to advise or counsel.”

One such mentor is Joan Haber, who raised her own children in Windsor and once walked the halls of Clover Street School with them. Now retired, Haber likes to give back and has returned to Clover Street. This time, however, she is mentoring a 9-year-old named Adrienne.

Haber says she mentors to “just be a friend and a listener.”

“When I head they were looking for a mentor, I thought: Monday’s a good day,” she said. Despite babysitting her grandchildren and being active in the community, Haber decided she had one day a week when she could give some time to a fourth-grader.

“Mentoring is not just a feel-good strategy,” said co-coordinator Mike Greenwood. “Instead, it has proven results for children,” he said. “Young people who have a mentor are more likely to stay in school and go on to college, raise their life aspirations, stay away from drugs and avoid fights and other violent behavior. It is often that special recognition which comes with mentoring that helps to make a difference in a child’s life. It truly is as simple as that,” he said.

Adrienne likes science and does a lot of fun things with her family. She plays clarinet and likes to play games and do crafts with Joan. They have been meeting for lunch once a week since October. “I like to play games after we eat lunch,” said Adrienne and she spends time just talking with Joan about what is going on in her life.

The children are not the only ones that benefit from this relationship.

“Mentoring also benefits the adults,” said Greenwood. “A mentor is more likely to increase his or her appreciation for diversity, feel more productive, develop core leadership skills and just feel good for having positively influenced another’s life,” he said.

Haber agrees. “I get a lot out of it,” she said. “I love children.”

Mentors will be provided with training. A single, two-hour training session will be held Feb. 26, beginning at 5 p.m. at L.P. Wilson Community Center.

If you are interested in offering your time to this program, contact Maureen Bilotta at 860-687-2000, ext. 232.

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