Glen Ellen Telegram
As I write this, it is New Year's Eve and like many I am both reflecting on 2014 and looking ahead to 2015. I did a very informal/unscientific poll around the village (a.k.a. friends and family) and found that about 60 percent of you think resolutions are a waste of time, 30 percent are resolving to “get healthier,” and 10 percent are resolving to “be a better person” in the new year.
If you are resolving to “be a better person” in 2015, what better way than to start giving back more to your community? And what better month to dive in than January, which is also National Mentoring Month?
There are many volunteer opportunities in our Glen Ellen/Kenwood community but in light of the month designation and the substantial needs of our youth, I recently sat down with Mary Jane “M.J.” Arner of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance (SVMA), Dunbar Elementary School satellite office.
M.J. has spent most of her adult life working in child and education-related fields and has been affiliated with the Mentor Center for about 10 years. SVMA has been active in the valley for about 20 years, with a headquarters in Sonoma and an onsite center at each of the Sonoma Valley public schools. From its official materials: “SVMA has invested in the future of the community by creating and supervising one-on-one, long-term relationships between caring adults and at-risk school children in need of academic and social support.” The program is thriving throughout the valley with hundreds of mentors having been linked successfully to mentees, building connections that last not only through school years but also into the mentees' young adult lives. For all the success however, SVMA wants you to know that there are more than 150 valley youth on the waiting list, looking for a mentor just like you to be linked to them.
At Dunbar, M.J. reports that although there are currently 13 mentor/mentees matched through her office, there are approximately 25 young candidates on the waiting list. How perfect that your resolution “to be a better person” could intersect with this unfulfilled need in our community!
Students become “candidates” for mentoring via recommendation from their teachers, parents, guardians, law enforcement, or other members of the community. M.J. and her colleagues are looking for “at-risk” flags such as reading below grade level, attendance problems, discipline difficulties, and substandard home conditions. No child can become a mentee without parental permission and no child can be forced to be a mentee. Success requires buy in from all participants as well as a suitable and sustainable match.
The basic mentorship commitment is not extensive and requires meeting with the child on the Dunbar school campus once a week for about an hour. As the relationship develops through guidance and time, contact can expand in both scope and hours spent per week. SVMA provides support off-campus should a mentor want to participate with their mentee in scheduled outside activities with others in the mentoring community.
M.J. says that becoming a member is fairly simple. First, you contact the office and state your interest. Next, an interview is scheduled so that M.J. can help to answer any questions you have, clarify the program, and find out enough about you to guide her in the mentee matching process. Mentors then go through an approximately 3-hour training process via SVMA.
If you are interested in learning more about mentoring opportunities at Dunbar School, contact M.J. Arner at 996-7328 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like general SVMA information, contact the main office at 938-1990.
Buzz from Around the Bend
Of course the talk around town has been all about rain, creeks, cold, and wind. Many Glen Ellenites have been impacted from small inconveniences to actual property damage or loss. Along those lines, the whole village mourns the death of the already half-dead Everidge house tree on Dec. 11th during “Derek,” the supersoaker of the decade. (Did you know that storm had a name?) The beloved “decorated” tree fell away from the house, into the road, and was quickly removed. Mary Kate Carter, who lives across the street, snapped some action shots and said, “It was quite a sight!” Villagers will miss the seasonal decorative choices that were joyously placed on the cut trunk 'shelves' these past several years. After the tree fell, a lone Santa hat was put up. Thanks for that; it brought a smile to many of us.
As always, if you have Glen Ellen news to announce, please email to email@example.com or call 996-3352.
Do you have any Glen Ellen stories to share? Milestones? Celebrations? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 996-3352.