Host families wanted for volunteers | SteamboatToday.com

Host families wanted for volunteers

Mike McCollum

— AmeriCorps volunteers are scheduled to arrive soon for the 2007-08 school year, and their sponsoring organization needs local host families.

Libby Foster, executive director of Partners in Routt County, said the school-based mentors provide academic and socio-emotional support as well as in-school and after-school programming for students in all three Routt County middle schools.

“The program really fills an important niche in schools,” said Foster, who noted the Steamboat Springs-based nonprofit agency needs housing for three of the six volunteers who are scheduled to be in the area from September through June 2008.

“Kids cruise around and go through the day – the motions – but do not get that support they need,” she said. “The middle school years are often a turbulent time. These mentors are there for them to make the time as easy as possible.”

Foster said the mentors work full-time and receive a stipend for food and other necessities, but funding isn’t adequate to house the young adults, who are all in their mid-20s.

“This is a tough place to make ends meet,” she said. “These are young people fresh out of college, eager and anxious to make a difference. They are moving out here for professional experience and they don’t necessarily have the means to make ends meet.”

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South Routt Superintendent Kelly Reed said the mentors have provided a great benefit to the school in past years, but their influence expands into the community.

“They also provide a new perspective, fresh enthusiasms and add to the fabric that becomes the school,” he said. “We look forward to them being part of our school community and hopefully they will have as good as an experience as volunteers of the past.”

Foster said three mentors have secured housing from Sara and Michael Craig-Scheckman of Steamboat, who have welcomed the mentors into their home.

“Ideally, we’d like to have a caretaker unit or mother-in-law situation – some sort of separate quarters,” Foster said. “And we would love the idea of the host family versus a condo, but that would be fine, too.”

Host families will not receive any payment for housing mentors, but Foster said tax incentives are available and mentors also would be willing to pull their weight around the house.

“Put them to work snow shoveling, feeding the dog or cat – whatever someone living in the home would do,” said Foster, who added that each volunteer is screened and interviewed prior to being assigned in Steamboat.

“These are not your average young adults. They are very bright, motivated and service-minded,” said Foster, who noted the program has been successful in past years.

“A host family would receive in return the feeling of giving back to the community by hosting a mentor,” she said. “You would be enabling them to do unbelievable work in the middle schools and indirectly helping hundreds of lives.”

The Partners program also looks to connect adults and youths in one-to-one mentorships.

For more information about housing a school-based mentor or volunteering as a senior partner, contact Partners in Routt County at 879-6141.

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