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April 20, 2014

The Well Outreach plans mentoring program for kids at risk

DUNCAN — The Well Outreach, Inc., will unveil its plans for an in-school mentoring program it will launch this fall during a Tuesday night meeting at its 913 W. Main Street storefront.

Carol Wanzor, director of the nonprofit organization, said changes to The Well’s summer food program also will be explained at the 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

The mentoring program is designed to match caring, competent adults with students who are considered at risk of academic or social failure.

“Our goal is to have 50 mentors in place this fall,” Wanzor said.

Each mentor will be paired with an individual student to spend an hour together each week at school.

The proposed program has been discussed with Duncan school administrators but has not yet been brought before the school board, Wanzor said.

The Well also is planning changes to its food program that delivered 8,500 lunches last summer, Wanzor said.

The meals were delivered by volunteer students on bicycles last summer, but this year the lunch-time meals will be served at different churches on a rotating basis, she said.

“It’s a much bigger problem than you realize,” Wanzor said of hunger in Duncan. “If you get your kids fed for lunch, those are dollars you can use elsewhere.”

Statistics show that 65 percent of Duncan elementary students qualify for free or reduced lunches and that 19 percent of Oklahoma children live in homes considered “food insecure” at some point during the year.

The Well Outreach was incorporated in 2012 and its nonprofit status was approved last year.

Its office space in the old J.C. Penney Building was donated as an in-kind contribution by First Christian Church, which owns the building.

“We want to be viewed by the community as a hub for meaningful service,” said Wanzor, who was executive director of the United Way of Stephens County from 1998 to 2006.

Kirk Bredy, senior vice president of Legacy Bank who serves as board treasurer for The Well Outreach, said the organization wants to engage local churches “to reach out beyond their walls and make a difference.”

“A lot of times there’s a misconception that we’re interested in resources other than volunteers,” he said.

Money donations, of course, are important and needed to fund the group’s programs, he added.              

“But a primary resource is volunteers. We need boots on the ground.”

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