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Beacon looking for SAS program mentors

August 8, 2012
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Beacon of H.O.P.E. is currently seeking individuals who would like to give back to the community by mentoring through the Students Achieving Success (SAS) program.

"SAS's primary mission is to provide after school tutorial and mentoring opportunities by working with families, teachers, school administration and other community organizations to enhance the students' academic success and progressive integration into his or her community."

When the program first started, they only had enough room to mentor five 4th and 5th grade students, which has since grown.

Betsy Haesemeyer, Beacon executive director, said this year they are providing the program for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. She said the teachers at Pine Island Elementary School select students who they believe are missing a mentoring relationship in their life.

"It is a long-term solution," she said of the SAS program. "It is a perfect example of what we do."

Amy Hashman, the director of the SAS after school program, said this year she wants to focus on Pine Island life. She said she is seeking local businesses that want to present what they do to the kids.

"The kids can go and see what happens on Pine Island, see that side of Pine Island," Hashman said.

In the past the kids were treated to a trip to the water plant to see how things operated.

The SAS program is offered at Pine Island Elementary School Monday through Thursday from 3:30-6 p.m.

Haesemeyer said they are looking for high school students who would like to mentor the youngsters, as well as older adults. She said individuals do not have to have a background in teaching to be a mentor.

"Everyone has a unique talent they can bring," Haesemeyer said. "You can make a difference helping our people excel."

She said mentors can come in for an hour, the whole time period or however long it takes to do a project. Haesemeyer welcomes individuals to bring pictures of the latest trip they went on to share with the students, or an experience they encountered.

A background check is done on all those who want to volunteer for the program to ensure safety for the students.

On Aug. 15 a mentoring event will be held at Stonegate Bank at 5:30 p.m.

SAS fosters caring adult relationships, a safe place for the children to learn and grow, along with assuring a healthy start to life in developing skills that will help them identify opportunities for them to give back to their peers in the community.

Four years ago Jane Mohar decided to make a difference in the Pine Island community through mentoring youngsters involved in the SAS program. She said she began volunteering her time because she wanted to give something back to the community.

Jane said she enjoys being able to develop a relationship with the children on a one-on-one basis.

"To see them look you in the eye, talk to you and have some manners," is what holds a special meaning to her.

In the past Jane and her husband Nick, who is also a mentor for the SAS program, have attended some of the youngsters' baseball games that they mentor.

"We try to show an interest in them," she said.

Nick said one of the students that he helped increased his grade from a C to B in math because he helped him focus.

"He got the point," he said.

Nick said the best part of mentoring someone is that you get back more than what you give from the experience.

Danielle Galloway began mentoring the children from the very beginning of the program.

"I love kids," she said of why she volunteers.

A memory that sticks out for Galloway is helping a young man who had hygiene and weight issues, as well as a speech defect and low self-esteem. She said she would tell the young man that he was important.

The two would read together during the SAS program, but when he needed help with math she directed him to someone else because she said she was stupid when it came to math.

"He told me I was not stupid," she said smiling.

The great thing about mentoring, Galloway said, is you always have something to give. She said it is all about getting to the youngster's level to create a relationship, so you can give them some of your knowledge and information.

A message that Gregory Lignelli, a mentor for the SAS program for three years, enjoys getting across is they do not want to be replacements. He said they are an extension of the student's teachers and parents.

"I'm trying to help them become good citizens," Lignelli said.

He said he spends time throwing a baseball with the kids to build that relationship, so he can help steer them in the right direction.

Lignelli wanted to give back to the community because he is grateful to be living in the United States. He said he is mentoring the kids to make this country great

A brand new volunteer, Doug Kruger, said he wanted to give back and hopefully improve young people's lives.

"I love kids and love the opportunity of trying to help them," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to bring meaning to education."

Kruger enjoys teaching the students skills, so they understand problem solving.

"I'm looking forward to a fun year," he said.



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