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Fighting Back Mentor Telethon Fighting to Keep Children Out of Gangs

Be part of the solution by signing up during Tuesday's event to be a volunteer mentor

If you’re frustrated, saddened, even upset about youths being jumped into gangs, here’s your chance to do something about it.

The Fighting Back Mentor Program is partnering with KEYT-TV to host the 14th annual Mission for Mentors Telethon.

This special event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Paseo Nuevo Mall’s Center Court and is sponsored by Venoco Inc. and Cottage Health System.

During the Mission for Mentors Telethon, community members call in to pledge their time as volunteer mentors for children in the community. The phone number will be available on KEYT Channel 3 during the telethon. This event reaches hundreds of people in Santa Barbara County and brings in more than 4,700 volunteer mentor hours each year.

The Fighting Back Mentor Program is a school-based program that provides a one-on-one mentoring relationship for youths in South Santa Barbara County. Mentors are paired with fourth- through eighth-grade students who are struggling with a variety of academic or personal challenges. Mentors help these youths by teaching them life skills that build resiliency, increase self-esteem and improve academic performance. Furthermore, they give their mentees a feeling of belonging, the comfort of knowing that they are cared about.

Every youth has a talent, a skill, something to offer. We need to step up and show our kids that those skills can be utilized in a positive way. For example, if a child has the ability to persuade their friends to do something, or if they are always trying to argue with the teacher for what they feel is fair, you can help show them the path towards Student Body Leadership or Youth Council. By reaching out to them now, we take away the appeal of gangs, simply because we show them that we care. As a community, we can help foster success for our kids — and ultimately, for ourselves.

Mentors are community members like you — retirees, CEOs, students, construction workers, parents, academic advisers, even local celebrities. If you’re one who’s saying, “Well, that’s great, but who has the time?” then call us. We will connect you with a mentor who has a busy life like you. It’s only one hour a week. We don’t ask you to give up your vacations, we understand that you may be sick sometimes and that’s all OK. Talk with your company to ask about their policy on employee “flex time,” giving you one hour per week to go to a school to mentor a child. Smaller local companies can thereby give back to the community without spending money.

As stated, mentors meet with their mentees for at least one hour per week at school for one calendar year. National research shows that youths who have a positive role model are more likely to avoid engaging in negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, violence and truancy, allowing them to succeed both personally and academically.

We serve more than 100 mentoring relationships throughout Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara, but the need for more mentors is great. Close to another 100 students are waiting to be matched. Will you be one of them?

Click here for more information about the Fighting Back Mentor Program or to become a mentor, or contact Juliana Lee at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Ann Cowell at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Edgar Diaz at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or 805.963.1433 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The attached pictures are both taken by Carolyn Newstrom.
“Mentor and Mentee Interview” Left to right: KEYT correspondent Paula Lopez, Mentor: Frank Randall, Mentee, Downtown Boys & Girls Club Director: Carolyn Brown
“Phone Bank” front: KEYT correspondent C.J. Ward

— Juliana Lee is a mentor program coordinator for the Fighting Back Mentor Program of the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse.

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