The program currently has 186 mentors matched with students, but there are more than 130 students on the waiting list for mentors, project facilitator Angela Matthew said.
“The number of kids on the waitlist is just growing faster than we can recruit volunteers,” she said.
Program mentors meet with their assigned student—preferably once a week—to have lunch with them, converse, play games and offer a listening ear.
“The program focuses on providing a consistent, stable adult in that person’s life,” Matthew said. “The mentor follows the kid from fifth grade all the way through graduation, so it’s not someone that just pops into their life for a brief moment and then is gone.”
The program is offered at Conroe High School and the schools that feed into it, including Travis Intermediate, Cyrar Intermediate, Bozman Intermediate, Washington Jr. High, Peet Jr. High and Conroe High Ninth Grade Campus.
Students are referred to the program by teachers, counselors or other staff who are familiar with the student’s personal life and circumstances. The student has the option to accept, and “almost all of them say yes,” Matthew said.
“There’s no criteria for the students to get into the program,” she said. “Every kid’s story is different, and every reason for needing a mentor is different.”
Reasons for needing a mentor could include the death of a parent, parents who are incarcerated or other family or personal issues, although anyone could benefit, Matthew said.
Upcoming training and information meetings for anyone interested in volunteering will be held 9 a.m. Jan. 15 and Feb. 19 at Travis Intermediate, 1100 N. Thompson St., Conroe.
Volunteers are required to undergo training sessions, pass a background check and commit to visiting with their assigned student at least once a month, through preferably once a week, she said.
Volunteers are encouraged to enjoy arts-and-crafts and play games as well as have more structured conversations with their assigned student.
This is the program’s 12th year, and Matthews said it has had lasting effects on students.
“The relationships they develop last a lifetime, and the impact is immeasurable,” she said.
For more information, visit conroeisd.net/organization/project-mentor/.