(Seguin) -- The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court is teaming up with Communities in School South Central Texas (CIS) to help spread the word about the need for more people to mentor children across Guadalupe County. CIS works with schools throughout the Seguin, New Braunfels, Luling, Marion and Schertz/Cibolo areas.
CIS Mentoring Coordinator Sonya Chapa made a brief presentation to the commissioners court on Tuesday. Chapa says she's using the new year as a way to reach out to more adults in an attempt to get them to mentor a child.
"January is our month to really push and promote the recruitment of mentors. We are in Guadalupe County. So we serve New Braunfels ISD, Comal ISD, Seguin, Marion and some of the schools in (the) Schertz/Cibolo/Universal City (ISD). So we are a big part of Guadalupe County and we'd really like your support in helping promote and share the opportunity to mentor a student," said Chapa.
Chapa says CIS has made it easy for people to volunteer. She says it's a rewarding opportunity for both the mentor and the student.
"It's really simple. We ask for a minimum of 30 minutes per week to work with a child. It would be the same child. So you build that relationship and that rapport. You really get to make a difference in a child's life," said Chapa.
The court was very supportive the CIS and all of the services that it offers. Commissioners Judy Cope and Jim Wolverton say they've seen firsthand the good things that come from Communites in Schools. Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher says that they want to do all that they can to encourage people to volunteer as mentors.
"I think each one of us in this room, even those out in the audience, can look back in their life and think of at least one or two people that were role models to them. (People) that they looked up to, that helped shaped who they are today. So it definitely is vital in a young person's life to have a mentor, a role model, someone that they can model their decisions and personality and character and morals after. So it definitely is important. We thank you for all your hard work. If there's ever anything else we can do besides just doing this proclomation, which is important -- if we can help get the word out even more in other ways, please let us know. We'll be happy to do so," said Kustcher.
The idea that mentoring is good for kids is nothing new, but Chapa shared some recent data that shows just how much it can have a positive impact on a child's life.
"52 percent are less likely to skip a day of school. 48 percent are less likely to use drugs...(and) 81 percent are more likely to participate in a positive activity -- sports, scouts, community involvement, Leo club, (and) things like that. That 30 minutes a week does give that return back to society, which is pretty significant," said Chapa.
Chapa says the mentoring program works. She shared with the court the story of a young man, who's now an adult. The program helped him, and now he is giving back it as well.
"One of the young men, he was in a gang, had to relocate. He's with a different group of people, different support system, different families, but he has changed his life, because of the work that CIS and his mentor has been working with him. Now, he's a paramedic and continuing his education; and (he) mentors a younger student who is just starting off in paradmedic school, down that path. So that's our whole goal is to turn around and give back," said Chapa.
Judge Kutscher asked Chapa about just how great the need was for mentors across the area serviced by CIS. Chapa says they have hundreds of kids who need a mentor, but they only have a fraction of the adults that they need to service and grow the program.
"In Guadalupe, Comal, Caldwell counties, I'm right now at 534 mentors. We intensively direct serve -- that means once a week, our social workers and counselors visit with over 4,000 kids. So that shows you the gap. I would love to say I have 3,000 mentors to work with those students. We are growing. When I started the program four years ago, I started with 72," said Chapa.
Chapa says there are lots of good people out their who could volunteer as a mentor in Guadalupe County. She says there are no special skills required. You just need the time and desire to help kids here in the community.
"The word mentor is very heavy for some people. It kind of scares them, but (it's) 30 minutes a week to just chat. (It's) a friendship with a purpose. That's really all it is. 'What's your goal?' You'll find out when you meet your student. We want to know how we can best match those. But once you meet your student, we'll give you that low down -- if you will -- on the student and what that focus needs to be," said Chapa.
To learn more about the Communities in Schools mentoring program, or to fill out an application to volunteer, visit the non-profit organization's website at www.cis-sct.org.