By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
There were seventeen Oklahoma City citizens among the sixty six outstanding mentors who were honored last month at the fourth annual Oklahoma Mentor Day at the Capitol. The ceremony was presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative.
The honorees were selected by their respective mentoring programs within the Mentoring Initiative’s statewide network. The event is held in conjunction with National Mentor Month in January.
“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 also draws attention to the value of mentoring and the tremendous impact that mentors make in their mentees’ lives.”
More than 400 representatives from mentoring organizations across the state attended the event. It included a ceremony in the House Chamber followed by a lunch and mentor-mentee activities. The festivities also marked the 10th anniversary of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
David L. Boren, founder and chairman of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence presented awards to each of the honorees.
Boren shared personal stories of people whose lives had been changed by mentoring – from a small-town pharmacist whose life and career were shaped through the kindness of an older couple – to a 14-year-old boy who spoke at the funeral of his Big Brother about how his mentor “made him believe he could be somebody.”
Boren said, “Those impacts – the things we hear, the things we see, experiences that are shared – especially from one generation to the next, stay with us and mold our lives.”
Boren noted that he is proud that Oklahoma consistently ranks among the top states in individual giving and volunteerism. “We are great because we are good,” said Boren, paraphrasing French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville’s insights on America’s greatness.
Boren called upon Oklahoma students, working adults and retirees to mentor.” What if we could harness that goodness of this state? “Think what it would do for the lives of people in Oklahoma … the strength of our state and our future.”
Boren concluded his presentation thanking all the honorees for sharing their goodness, time and energy with young people. “I hope every mentee here understands how deeply their mentor cares about them and what a difference it makes,” he said. “Keep it up, and may your example keep spreading.”
The Boren Mentoring initiative began out of Boren’s own commitment to mentoring and the proven impact that mentoring can have on a student’s success in and out of the classroom. The initiative was launched in 2006 to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide. Since then, more than 150 Oklahoma mentoring organizations have joined the foundation’s network.
Oklahoma Mentor Day was made possible through the support of the Kirkpatrick Foundation Inc. of Oklahoma City and Google Inc. of Pryor.
For more information about the Boren Mentoring Initiative, visit www.okmentors.org or contact Beverly Woodrome, program director, at 405-236-0006. A complete list of honored mentors can be found on the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence website.