MAKING A DIFFERENCE: T.H.R.I.V.E brings mentor programs together

Published 7:00 pm Monday, December 10, 2018

By Kami May

For The Vicksburg Post

Mentoring is a cornerstone to young people in this community. United Way, YMCA’s Prime-Time Program, Vicksburg Family Development’s Male Image and Girl’s Club, Vicksburg Warren School District and Vicksburg Catholic School’s Families First have joined forces to touch so many lives across our community.

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For so long, there has been an abundance of after school programs throughout Vicksburg and Warren County, all unique in their own way. The organizations listed above noticed a need to take a seat at the table together and offer multiple resources to all children through a community initiative entitled T.H.R.I.V.E — Teaching Heroes to Relate by Inspiring, Validating, and Empowering.

By definition, thrive means to grow vigorously and that is what this program aims to do. The T.H.R.I.V.E Mentoring Program enables teens to serve as a positive role model to children, as well as help them achieve academic success in the classroom.

“I am very proud of our mentors who have committed their time and are dedicated to this program. I am excited to watch this program grow,” said Kara Doiron, former Community Outreach Coordinator at Vicksburg Catholic School’s Families First.

Not only are these organizations joining forces to change a child’s life, this after school program also serves as a connecting link by which the school, students, and parents are united to enhance the quality of life in the community.

As parents of a child in the program, John and Kendra Perkins have seen tremendous growth in their daughter, Isabella.

“The young lady that is providing Isabella tutoring assistance has shown her new techniques to retain her lessons and has given her a few tips as well,” John Perkins said. “It has been very worthwhile, and I am very pleased with the results that I have seen in this brief period of time.”

Isabella Perkins had many positive words to say about the program.

“My mentor is sweet, kind, nice, loving, caring, thoughtful, helpful and proactive that’s why I love her,” said Isabella Perkins.

There is a bonding element to this program that is magical. The children eagerly wait for that one-on-one time with their mentor, time set aside just for them. By having his or her special person by their side on a weekly basis, the hope is that each child will gain the self-confidence and knowledge to be successful in school and a leader throughout their lifetime.

“Colin, the child I mentor weekly, has improved my life as much as I have improved his. To know that I am making a difference in someone who will, one day, go on to do great things inspires me,” David Osburn, senior T.H.R.I.V.E mentor, said.

Some may ask what sets this program apart from others in our community. It is the vital partnership with Vicksburg Warren School District, as they have provided individualized curriculum for each student based upon their IReady Results as requested by each parent.

“What better way to equip students with skills to succeed than to partner with those in our community who are on the same mission,” said Stephanie Wilson, MTSS Coordinator Vicksburg Warren School District.

The mentors for the T.H.R.I.V.E Program are at different stages in life, from high school students to retirees. The program is always in need of mentors.

If you or someone you know would like to become a T.H.R.I.V.E Mentor, please contact Michele Connelly at United Way of West Central Mississippi by phone at 601-636-1733 for an application.