04/05/05 — Smart Start recruiting mentors to help guide youth

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Smart Start recruiting mentors to help guide youth

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 5, 2005 1:46 PM

When Tracy Moore was hired in November by Smart Choices for Youth to recruit mentors to work with young people in the community, she was given a year to enlist 15 adults for the task.

Four months later, she already has 24 volunteers.

"By the time next November is here, she may have upwards to 30," said her supervisor, Daryl Woodard, the organization's executive director.

The program sponsored by Smart Choices provides several mentoring opportunities. Ms. Moore was hired to be an AmeriCorps Fellow. Her task is to secure workers for the Governor's One-on-One mentoring program.

Woodard said that Wayne County's One-on-One program now has 45 volunteers for the youths referred by the juvenile court system, local law enforcement and other agencies. He said the need is great, particularly as a preventive measure.

"It costs $90,000 for each child that is sent to training school," he said. "That's how much taxpayers are being saved by keeping kids in the community ... That's how much she has given back to the community since she began this job."

Miss Moore, a native of Claremont, said the happiness she got from volunteering as a college student helps her sell others on the idea of volunteering.

One of her volunteering projects was at the Boys and Girls Club in Wayne County. The fact that her brother is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base helped prompt her to move to the Wayne are after graduating from Campbell University, she said.

While interviewing for jobs, she learned about the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps. The federally-funded position is for a one-year commitment. Already, she said, she has visited colleges, businesses and civic organizations, as well as the military base, talking about the importance of being a mentor for youth.

"I think the most effective thing is incentives," she said. "What do they get out of volunteering?"

She said having performed community service looks good on job applications and college applications, but the most important outcome is to make a difference in a child's life, she said.

For more information about the Governor's One-on-One program, or about other opportunities to work with young people, people are urged to call the Smart Choices office at 735-0008.