By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
More than 60 outstanding mentors from throughout Oklahoma will be honored Tuesday, January 17, when the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative present the fifth annual Oklahoma Mentor Day. The event will take place at Nigh University Center, 744 E. Main St., on the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.
As part of National Mentoring Month, the foundation will honor outstanding Oklahoma mentors who have been selected by their respective programs within the Mentoring Initiative’s statewide network.
Oklahoma Mentor Day, themed, “Building Brighter Futures,” will include lunch and a variety of activities hosted by UCO faculty and students.
Following an opening reception in the Nigh Center 3rd floor ballroom, at 9:15 a.m., honored mentors and their mentees will be recognized during a ceremony in Constitution Hall (2nd floor) beginning at 10 a.m. Advance registration is required.
Oklahoma best-selling author and former foster child Alton Carter, a Stillwater youth leader, will be the featured speaker.
Author of the best-selling autobiography “The Boy Who Carried Bricks,” Carter will share how influential mentors helped him overcome childhood hardships and become the first in his family to graduate from high school and receive a college scholarship.
Joining Carter in presenting Outstanding Mentor Awards will be Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustee Molly Boren. Her husband is foundation founder and chairman David L. Boren, a strong mentoring advocate. Foundation President Craig Story will also participate in the award presentations.
“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 impact that mentors make in their mentees’ lives.”
Due to construction at the State Capitol, the traditional site of Oklahoma Mentor Day, this year’s event at UCO provides a unique opportunity for mentors and mentees to visit a college campus and participate in hands-on activities hosted by university departments, including activities in the arts, robotics, forensic science, biology, chemistry and engineering.
Optional Mentor-Mentee activities from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. will include Bowling at AMF Boulevard Lanes, in Edmond, a tour of UCO’s Forensic Science Institute, and a tour of the UCO School of Contemporary Music in the Bricktown District in Oklahoma City. Advanced registration is required online. ( http://www.ofe.org/index.php?activities)
The Boren Mentoring Initiative grew out of David and Molly Boren’s commitment to mentoring and the proven impact it 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.
The Mentoring Initiative is the National Mentoring Month Ambassador for Oklahoma. In addition to hosting Oklahoma Mentor Day, the foundation provides access to 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 of the 15th annual 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,” Woodrome 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 continued.
“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.
To learn about mentoring opportunities in your community, visit www.okmentorday.org.
For more information about Oklahoma Mentor Day, contact Beverly Woodrome at 405-236-0006 or email [email protected].