By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Friday, January 8, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence through its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative will celebrate National Mentoring Month when it presents the fourth annual Oklahoma Mentor Day at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Sixty-six outstanding Oklahoma mentors will be honored at the event. Each of these mentors has been selected by their respective programs within the Mentoring Initiative’s statewide network.
Following an opening reception at 9:15 a.m., honored mentors and their mentees will be recognized at a ceremony in the House Chamber beginning at 10 a.m.
David Boren, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence, will be the featured speaker and present certificates to the honorees. Advance registration is required.
“The goal of Oklahoma Mentor Day is to recognize outstanding mentors from all types of youth mentoring organizations around the state and to provide fun, educational activities for the honorees and their mentees to share,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
“Mentor Day draws attention to the value of mentoring and the tremendous impact that mentors make in their mentees’ lives,” she said.
Hundreds of representatives from mentoring organizations across the state are expected to attend Mentor Day. The day will include lunch and a variety of events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the foundation and the 10th anniversary of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
Activities will include juggling; hula hooping; hands-on science stations; a photo booth; and appearances by Chester the Clown and The Pocket Players, a Tulsa mentoring group with a special focus on music, dance and theater.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative was born out of David Boren’s commitment to mentoring and the proven impact that mentoring can have on a student’s success in and out of the classroom. In 2006 the initiative was launched to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative is the National Mentoring Month Ambassador for Oklahoma.
In addition to hosting Oklahoma Mentor Day, the foundation provides a variety of National Mentoring Month promotional resources on its website, www.okmentors.org, including posters, PSAs, thank-your-mentor cards and sample mayoral proclamations for mentoring organizations to use in their communities.
“The theme for the 2016 National Mentoring Month is ‘In Real Life,’ which focuses on real life benefits of mentoring to young people, as well as real life benefits to mentors themselves,” Woodrome said.
“During National Mentoring Month, we want to raise awareness of the need for mentors and the impact of mentors in our state and encourage Oklahomans to volunteer just one hour a week for a school year to make a difference in the life of a child,” she added.
In a 2014 survey of Oklahoma mentoring organizations, the Boren Mentoring Initiative found that the most positive outcomes to mentees were improved academic performance, positive mentor-mentee relationships, improved behavior, increased self-esteem and more enrichment opportunities.
“The survey also found that the greatest challenge facing mentoring organizations was a shortage of volunteer mentors,” Woodrome said. “Mentoring opportunities range from serving pre-K students to young adults and can be arranged to fit volunteers’ schedules,” she added.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative has created a directory of more than 160 mentoring partner organizations statewide and works with those organizations to seek volunteers, offer resources and promote mentoring best practices.
The initiative also provides consulting and resources for groups seeking to create new mentoring programs and publishes a blog, “The Oklahoma Mentor,” which offers a searchable database of mentoring ideas and resources.