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$78,000 grant awarded to El Dorado County

Christina Proctor

The problem is consistent across the nation. In every community there are children who need guidance.

People see the problem, yet feel unable to help.

In 1995, Gov. Pete Wilson created the California Mentor Initiative. Through the program money is doled out to California counties for mentor programs.

In July, the South Lake Tahoe office of the El Dorado County Health Department received a two-year, $70,000 grant.

“South Lake Tahoe has two established providers of mentors. The money is to be used to efficiently consolidate the best parts of these programs,” said De-Anne Hooper, a health education coordinator.

Part of the $70,000 goes to pay for Hooper’s salary and advertising, but $22,000 of the grant is set aside for the purpose of enhancing mentor and child relationships.

“It can be used for taking a kid out for ice cream,” Hooper explained.

Hooper added that the grant eliminates financial concerns as an obstacle for adults who want to participate.

Hooper said the health department will be working with the South Lake Tahoe Boys and Girls Club, CASA El Dorado and Voluntary Action to create programs that work for local youths.

“The core elements of any mentor relationship focus on sustained, regular contact, building trust, and developing and maintaining the relationship over time. The mentor assists the protege to develop the social skills and/or resources needed to overcome obstacles and support the attainment of their vision,” Hooper said.

This school year the health department is starting a program to train high school students as mentors for middle school students. Friday Night Live Team Mentoring will be countywide, Hooper said.

Hooper said she will also be responsible for evaluating the programs the money is used for and reporting back to the state.

“We also have to look into the sustainability of the program at the community level,” Hooper said. The grant will end in July 2000.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a mentor, or who knows of a youngster who would benefit from the mentor program, may contact one of the following organizations: the Boys and Girls Club, serving school-aged children, contact Steve Conway at (530) 542-0838; CASA, serving court-appointed cases where children have been abused, contact Julie Henry at 573-3072; Family Connections, serving school-aged children, contact Lynn Nolan at 542-0740; Friday Night Live Team Mentoring, contact Christy Derdowski at 621-6142; Mentors Plus, serving middle-school aged youth, contact Jeanette Boltz at 642-3511; Library Literacy Program, acting as tutors for all levels of literacy skills, contact Barbara Berezin at 573-3185.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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