By Rana Nelson
You know that great feeling that you get when you’re making a difference? Pass it on! April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, and The Revelstoke Current showcases some volunteers who are creating that ripple effect – this year’s NVW theme.
Mitch Kovacs and Callum Hicks are Revelstoke Secondary School students, and mentors in Community Connections’ Youth Mentoring Program. Caleb Andrews is a Grade 5 student at Begbie View Elementary, and one of the program’s mentees. I met with the three boys at BVE to talk about why they got involved.
RN: So tell me what you do in the mentoring program.
CA: We have fun with high-schoolers! We play games, go swimming, we go to The Modern for hot chocolate.
MK: It’s like having a little brother. It’s pretty fun.
RN: Do you do any other volunteer work?
CH: I coach soccer and skiing, and Mitch and I work with special needs high-school kids at lunch. I had volunteer coaches when I was younger, so it’s nice to be able to give back like this.
MK: We also meet with some of the Grade 7 kids to help them work through problems that they’re having.
Teachers Rory Luxmoore and Pam Mair help facilitate the mentoring program at BVE, referring kids who they think will benefit. Luxmoore is “impressed with the high-school students’ leadership. And it’s a two-way street. The older students learn from the younger students, too.”
The mentees can be in Grades 1 to 7 and the mentors must be in Grades 10, 11, or 12. The program is in its second year and has grown substantially since the beginning, with 46 students now involved. Time spent with the mentees counts towards the 30 hours of paid or volunteer work high-school students must acquire to graduate. While many students began the program to fulfill that requirement, more have joined because the mentors tell them how much fun it is.
Kelly Silzer, Sheena Bell, and Stacy Sanchez coordinate the program for Community Connections. Bell is based out of RSS so has been able to develop good relationships with the high-school students. In their weekly meetings, the group might use the kitchen or art room for a project, or get outside and play ball, tag, or hide-and-seek. The students usually meet in a group, because “it’s more fun,” says Caleb. “One-on-one can be boring.”
RN: How long do you think you’ll do the program for?
CA: I want to do this all the way up to Grade 7.
RN: And do you think you’ll be a mentor in high school?
CA: I want to!
Caleb’s mom, Andrea Andrews, fully supports Caleb’s involvement in the mentoring program. “I’m a single parent and it’s nice to know that there are programs in the community that provide a positive male influence for young boys. We have great friends here, so Caleb has other male role models, but in this program it’s all about him.”
In the interview, the affection the boys have for each other was obvious. After the three came back inside from shooting baskets, Caleb gave Callum and Mitch a big hug goodbye, and they talked about their plans for the next week.
Andrews noted that when Mitch and Callum see Caleb around town they always stop and chat with him, and she says that on Wednesdays, Caleb always says, “Remember I have mentoring today, Mom.”
Create your own ripple effect: If you’re not a high-school or elementary student, you can get involved in Community Connections’ Community Mentoring Program, which is similar to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and is always looking for mentors. Contact Kelly Silzer at 250.837.2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rana Nelson is a professional writer and editor in Revelstoke, BC. You can reach her at Onwords Editing and Communication. email@example.com