“By giving a few words of encouragement to someone who is discouraged perhaps you will help the recipient, who may cherish those words over their lifetime,” is the advice Christie Smith, of Coldiron, gives to everyone she meets. Volunteering as a mentor to cadets at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy at Grays Knob, Smith asks others to join her in this effort.
“Acting as a mentor is critical to the success of helping change lives and the lives of future generations,” said Smith. “When you mentor one of these cadets you are helping redirect the lives of youth who have dropped out of school or are at risk for dropping out. The qualities needed to be a mentor are to be a good listener and enjoy being with teenagers. You need to be a good role model and a mature adult who really cares about the cadet’s success.”
A homemaker, Smith has two children and said her home has always been a place where teenagers came to hang out. She said she also has a special child who she has “sort of adopted and let him live with her.”
“I love working with teenagers,” said Smith. “All kids need to know they have someone to talk to who is objective. They need someone they can just let things out to and I’m a pretty good listener. I know that these kids just need someone to be there to encourage them. It’s important to let them know they can do things — that they aren’t just stuck where they are at — that they can move forward. These kids, especially at the ChalleNGe Academy need hope.”
Encouraging others to contact the ChalleNGe Academy to apply for the position of mentor, Smith said “volunteering is an honorable thing to do.” She said mentors are desperately needed at the ChalleNGe Academy and now is the time to volunteer to help.
“It’s rewarding in a way you see a change in these kids,” said Smith. “It’s a blessing to them as well as to yourself, because you know someway, somehow something you said or by just listening can make a difference in their lives. Not everybody has someone they can talk to and some of these kids may not have family or anybody, and they need to know there is a chance for them to move forward in their life and be productive in their community. These kids are in the real world and deal with things we all deal with everyday and they need someone to help them when the going gets tough. We all need to embrace our youth, because our youth is our future.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer as a mentor at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy may call 574-0303 for more information or drop by to pick up a mentor application and information packet.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com