AUBURN – January is National Mentoring Month. The Child Health Center oversee the largest mentoring program in Maine, serving more than 500 youth. Its Big Brothers Big Sisters Program has been matching children with volunteers in Oxford, Androscoggin and southern Franklin counties since 1991 and in 2006 realized more than 45,000 hours of mentoring.

During January the center is joining Maine Mentoring Partnership and the American Association of Big Brothers Big Sisters to recognize the local mentoring matches.

The Child Health Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Program offers a variety of mentoring partnerships. The consistent mentoring relationships help give young people the confidence, resources and skills they need to reach their potential.

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. Through the relationship, the confidence and character of a mentee can develop to help them reach their full potential.

The programs offered under the Child Health Center include site-based mentoring, traditional community mentoring and after-school programs.

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

The Child Health Center also offers a community-based mentor program in which adults 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.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters say they come away with a better appreciation of students, they feel better about themselves for having an impact on another’s life and they learn more about themselves.

Those who would like to learn more about mentoring should contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 743-7035 in Oxford County and 782-5437 in Androscoggin, and southern Franklin counties.