Community Connections Program
Community Connections is a successful youth mentoring program created in a partnership of the Rotary clubs of Kennebunk and Kennebunk Portside and the Northern York County Family YMCA. Now in its 11th year of operation, the program has served a dozen young people each year. The program concentrates on middle school youth.
The goals of the program are:
1. To provide a young person (“mentee”) with a positive adult role model and to let the mentees know that the community cares about them.
2. To demonstrate to the mentees the importance of the YMCA’s four core values: honesty, respect, responsibility, and caring.
3. To introduce to the mentees community resources and activities that they might “connect” with after the program ends.
The majority of mentors are members of the two Rotary clubs. There are also volunteer mentors from the community, including students form the University of New England. Program management is provided by the YMCA. The Rotary clubs and the United Way of York County, which has made a major commitment to supporting programs for youth, fund the program.
Recruitment of Mentees
The Community Connections program coordinator, a YMCA staff person, reaches out to school officials who have interest in referring youth into the program. The coordinator meets with school staff and provides them with information as to how to make appropriate referrals to the program. The coordinator receives the names of potential mentees and then schedules a meeting with the parents or guardians of each prospect for the program. The mentoring program is explained and the parents and youth are questioned about the interests and personality of the young person. The information gained is used to improve the matching of the youth to the adult in the program.
Mentor Recruitment Screening and Training
Rotary clubs are responsible for mentor recruitment. All mentors are asked to complete the standard volunteer application used by the YMCA. This application results in the identification of three references and permission to complete a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) check. YMCA staff coordinates the reference and SBI checks. The program staff offers training to all mentors at the beginning of each year. Staff also provides one-on-one training for mentors who miss the initial training.
The program coordinator, a social worker, provides case management services to the families and mentors in the program, maintaining communication with both throughout the year. YMCA staff plans and facilitates bi monthly group meetings at the YMCA. The activities, including getting acquainted, team building and character building exercises, form the core of the program. The YMCA staff also plans and directs regular monthly field trips and group outings during the year and provides van service to transport participants for special events. In addition, staff provides administrative support and coordination to the program including facilitation of mentor support meetings and the sending of program and meeting notices to mentors/mentees.
YMCA staff, Rotarians, and a middle school administrator participate in regular monthly Steering Committee meetings that create policy and provide oversight to the program operations.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS MENTORS 2010
Kennebunk Portside Rotary has supported the Community Connections mentoring program for 12 years. The program concentrates on middle school aged youth. The program is a collaboration between Rotarians, YMCA staff and middle school administrators. The program staff offers training to all mentors at the beginning of each year.
Portside Mentors: Owen Conway, Harvey Flashen, Don Curry, Ki Leffler and Rand Gesing
At our June meeting, Portside Rotary members shared their experiences with their mentees over this last year and felt the work done with the mentees was a very rewarding experience, great teambuilding and positive impact. Time commitment from our mentors runs from October to May, 2 to 3 times a month. Meetings are held at the YMCA in Biddeford and a few activities they participated in throughout the year were: Sea Dogs game, Maine Red Claws game, bowling, Trolley Museum, clean up at Goat Island Lighthouse, tour of SMMC. Thank you mentors for your commitment and involvement.