Partners – Benefits Mentors and Youths

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[Montrose CO | November 2021 | By Kathryn R. Burke]

What is a partner? Who is a partner? How does the Partner Program work? We hear the term bandied about as a general term, but to be part of the Partners Youth Mentoring Program, which serves Montrose, Ouray, and Delta Counties—the term has a specific connotation.

A partner is a mentor, an adult matched to a child by common interest and trust, a person who can “teach by example and guide with patience” (part of the partner motto). The adult is the senior partner; the junior partner is a child between the ages of 6 and 17.

The partner relationship helps both. The adult finds satisfaction in making a positive difference to a child, functioning as an advocate and a role model, helping to build self-esteem. Young people have an opportunity to build a relationship with a responsible, caring adult who helps them learn how to cope with problems at home or school or with their peers. Sometimes it’s just a matter of needed companionship. The child may be in need of a parent or grandparent figure to fill a family gap.

Hence Partners. It’s really about opening doors to opportunity, providing guidance and support for success in life. A pretty good deal all around!

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Senior partners are vetted before matching. Young people who join the program are not children at risk of potential problems down the road (according to statistics); rather, they are youth who need a little help from someone they feel they can trust. Someone they feel safe sharing goals and aspirations, frustrations and disappointment—without judgement (or instruction). Adults don’t need to be counselors or have special training. A desire to help, to become involved is all that is asked. Some volunteer as art partners, or to help with activities, fundraising, or other tasks.

The program does have structure. Partners’ case managers provide on-going support for mentors and mentees with suggestions, and low- or no-cost directed activities. Senior partners may choose to undergo volunteer trainings. When matched (after a thorough screening process), a mentor often includes children in daily activities or even some work-related projects. Partners might go shopping together, grab a burger and fries at a local eatery, go on a picnic, hang out at a park or the Rec Center, or just help with homework. Outdoor activities might encompass exploring Black Canyon, or, depending on common skills and interests (and equipment availability): skiing, rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking. As long as it’s fun…safe (and maybe convenient) …it’s a good activity.

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Three hours a week is the suggested duration, but many partner pairs spend a lot more time together learning life skills. The Partners Program asks for a one-year commitment, but many partners become friends for life. The goal? “Plant a seed with your knowledge, watch it grow in a young person.”

Partners is a no-profit, 501c3 organization supported by grants, donations, and fundraisers like the chili bowl.

How/where do you sign up?

Junior partners are referred from local organizations that are already working with kids. These are not so much as troubled kids, but children who will benefit from a little personal mentoring from spending quality time with someone other than a parent or teacher. Children who have been interviewed and are waiting for a mentor-match, join the Nexus group. These young people meet once a month for different activities until they are matched with a senior partner.

To become a (senior partner) mentor, contact one of Partner’s two offices.

Montrose County, Serving Montrose, Ouray, Ridgway
315 S. 7th St. | Montrose CO 81401

Delta County
511 E. 10th St. | Delta CO 81416