The Duncan Banner

April 23, 2014

Officer urges volunteers to sign up for mentoring program

Steve Olafson
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — A new in-school mentoring program trying to recruit volunteers got a boost on Tuesday night when Duncan Police Officer Julio Alvarez stepped onto a stage to tell a crowd of 50 spectators that a mentor helped him overcome the trauma of childhood victimization.

“Go out and spread the word,” Alvarez said, urging people to sign up as mentors through a program that is being developed by The Well Outreach, Inc.

Speaking from the stage of The Well’s storefront on Main Street, Alvarez said the mentor who took the time to develop a relationship with him was nothing less than a lifesaver.

“To this day, I still talk to her periodically,” he said. “She gave me attention when I needed it, taught me to love myself when I didn’t.

“This is something I feel very strongly about. Go out and spread the word.”

Members from a wide range of churches attended the meeting called by Carol Wanzor, director of The Well Outreach, a nonprofit organization.

The Well hopes to have 50 mentors in the fall for Woodrow Wilson, Mark Twain and Emerson elementary schools, which have the highest percentage of students that qualify for free or reduced meals.

The hope is those who attended the Tuesday night gathering will go back to their churches and workplaces to find responsible, caring adults to volunteer as mentors.

The commitment is to spend about an hour a week with a child that is considered at risk for social and/or academic failure. The time spent with the students will be at their school, either at breakfast, lunch or occasionally during an afternoon class.

Successful mentoring programs in Oklahoma already are in place in Claremore, El Reno and Fairview, Wanzor said.

Volunteers who are selected must pass a background check and will undergo about six hours of training.

Wanzor also announced the first wave of mentor volunteers at the meeting. Besides Alvarez, they are Kirk Bredy, Craig Taliafero, Ted Bowling, Jason Farris, Corey Ensey, Ron Miller, Dr. Ché Miller and Tim Keller.

Wanzor said she is hopeful businesses in Duncan will agree to give their employees at least a half hour off each week to participate in the mentoring effort.