Mentoring helps big, little participants

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AUBURN – The Child Health Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters community mentoring program matched Evelyn Duplissis, an employee at the Auburn Savings in Lewiston, with Hanna, 14, almost four years ago.

The two meet at least six hours a month and go to the movies, talk and walk at the Auburn Mall and catch up over dinner.

Duplissis said, “We also try to see local plays and shows. The best part of our match is knowing that Hanna has a person in her life who is there to listen to and focus on Hanna.”

This is one of more than 450 matches that meet regularly throughout Androscoggin County as part of the Child Health Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters community- and school-based mentoring programs.

The program offers a variety of mentoring partnerships, which help young people succeed in life. The programs are structured and help form a trusting relationship that brings young people together with a caring teen or adult who can offer guidance, support and encouragement.

Programs include site-based mentoring, traditional community mentoring, Mentoring Students in Transition, Mentoring Children of Prisoners, Teen Impact!!, a teen program without walls and an after-school program for middle school children.

The site-based program offers an older teen or adult the opportunity to spend one hour a week with a child at a local elementary or middle school. The teens and young adults who volunteer in the site-based program are high school and college students who work with children on school assignments, play board games or talk and listen. The adults who volunteer come from a variety of local organizations, including local churches and police departments.

The Child Health Center also offers a more traditional community-based mentor program in which adults from the local area share community-wide experiences with their Little Brother or Sister. In winter they may go skiing, sliding or ice fishing, while others may stay indoors for movies or football games. The Mentoring Students in Transition and Mentoring Children of Prisoners are new programs that started in the fall of 2004.

Anyone who would like to be a mentor should call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 782-5437.

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