Area mentorship program making a difference in the community

January is National Mentoring Month, and one area organization is celebrating by recognizing the impact their mentorship program has on the community.

The La Crosse area YMCA began their ‘Reach & Rise’ program in 2013 to match adults witch area children in order to provide them with a positive role model and make a difference in their life.

Mentors complete a 15 hour training course, and then are matched up with an area child. They then meet with their mentee at least once a week. During their time together, the pairs build a relationship and do fun activities, from playing games and solving puzzles to homework.

Dan, a current mentor, meets with his match, Isaac, once a week. Isaac’s mom says she has noticed a significant change in her son.

“Isaac has opened up so much since Dan has started meeting with him,” she says. “He is getting better grades in school, managing his emotions more when he is upset, and opening up to people easier than he used to. This program has really made a difference in my son’s life.”

Another mentor, Chelsea Ruda, says it is important to be a positive role model for the children because they may not have those role models elsewhere in their lives.

“I really think that it’s beneficial, and a lot of young kids need a mentor in their lives, whether it might be because they don’t have that family at home or for other reasons, I think it’s really helpful,” she says.

People who are interested in being mentors for the program must be 21 years old, complete a background check, and have a clean driving record.

Anyone interested in being a mentor or learning more about the program can find more information on the YMCA website.