The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 25, 2014

Goodwill seeks volunteers to guide area teens, tweens

JOHNSTOWN — If you’re looking for a way to get involved with area young people, this community event might be the answer.

In honor of January’s being National Mentoring Month, Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley Inc. will host “Becoming a Volunteer Mentor: A GoodGuides Open House” for adults interested in becoming involved with the GoodGuides Youth Mentoring Program.

The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday in Room C103 at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, 445 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

The free, informal open house is an opportunity for individuals to talk to Goodwill Industries’ GoodGuides staff, current and past mentors, and youths who have utilized the program.

Cindy O’Connor, program manager, said 40 youngsters ages 12 to 17 are waiting for a mentor.

“We’re looking for people who want to empower a child, be a friend, a coach and want to help them figure out their futures,” she said. “Everyone has had that one person in their life they look up to, so this is a way to pay it forward and be the mentor you wanted to have.”

Studies have shown that young people who are mentored experience improved self-esteem and school attendance, have an increased chance of graduating from high school and pursuing postsecondary education, and decreased hostility and use of drugs or alcohol.

“We’ve had some success with our program,” O’Connor said. “You have to have youth and mentors who want to be involved. It has to be voluntary on both sides.”

Since Goodwill launched GoodGuides in 2009, the agency has trained 139 volunteer mentors, who are required to pass state and federal clearances including FBI clearance.

A total of 155 young people have been matched in either one-on-one or group settings and have received a minimum of two hours of career development time per month for a full year.

For more information, call O’Connor at 659-9370.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.

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