January is National Mentoring Month, a month to recognize the contributions of mentoring programs such as the one operated by Helping Services for Youth and Families in four NE Iowa counties, including Winneshiek County.
Helping Services for Youth & Families mentoring program staffer Kathy Schwartzhoff says mentoring has a positive impact on youth. For instance, research confirms that mentored youth have a greater chance of avoiding negative influences, such as substance abuse, bullying, or dropping out of school.
The number of mentoring volunteers has declined slightly because of the COVID-19 epidemic. But the need for positive role models is extremely vital as families deal with the stress of unemployment, cut-backs, isolation, and lack of social activities. Schwartzhoff says 161 volunteers have operated as mentors in Allamakee, Winneshiek, Howard and Delaware counties, mentoring 113 youths. 95 percent of those youth say they have had a positive experience with the mentoring program.
More details about the program are available here.