City And County Honor The Mentoring Partnership For 20 Years of Helping Kids
June is officially “The Mentoring Partnership” month in Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, as the program which helps thousands of mentors and mentees every year celebrates twenty years.
The Mentoring Partnership of Southwest PA began in 1995 and provides training, resources, research, and information about best practices to more than 500 partner organizations.
“Since that time, our community has gone (from) mentoring 3,800 children each year to more than 20,000. That’s quite an accomplishment,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at Monday’s ceremony.
Michelle Gibbs, who works as an auditor for the city of Pittsburgh, has been mentoring a sixth grader named Sean through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for the last year.
“While the program does have structured activity time, your main thing is to listen, encourage, and in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, promote the Pittsburgh Promise program,” Gibbs said.
Colleen Fedor, executive director of The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA said she has been a Big Sister for the past six years, and that she has gotten just as much out of the experience as her mentee.
She said anyone can mentor a child, even outside an organized program.
“With the crossing guards and the cafeteria ladies, teachers, (religious) teachers -- just neighbors who want kids to be the best they can be. (Be) more mentor-like in those relationships,” Fedor said.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto applauded the team at The Mentoring Partnership for their efforts, citing statistics from the National Mentoring Partnership that show students who are mentored are 52 percent less likely to skip school.
“This is the way you do it. It doesn’t happen with a magic wand, it happens with hard work,” Peduto said. “It happens with people who care and are willing to give themselves a little bit to others even though they may not know them and be able to participate in what way they can.”