Mentor program yields PALpable results |

Mentor program yields PALpable results

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Kevin Warkentin and Zach Jones have taken their participation in YouthZone’s PALS mentor program to the airwaves.

And Jones is loving every minute of it.

“Zach’s got a lot of positive energy,” KMTS on-air talent Cheryl Minter said. “He likes the exposure.”

On Thursday, Minter interviewed Warkentin and Jones ” both first-time participants in the PALS program ” for her KMTS afternoon radio show. Jones had previously recorded a KMTS radio spot with Minter to promote the program.

“He’s going to take my job someday,” Minter said. “For his age, doesn’t he talk so eloquently?”

As Jones’ mentor, Warkentin said the pair like to play basketball or video games and watch movies. They usually hang out around three hours a week.

“This is helping me,” said Warkentin, a 17-year-old senior at Glenwood Springs High School. “It just brings back memories from my childhood.”

Jones, a Glenwood Springs Middle School sixth-grader, discussed how he first learned about the program through his school counselor.

“I thought, ‘This is going to be cool,'” he said. “This is going to be interesting.”

Warkentin said after meeting Jones around three months ago, he knew he was in for a fun mentorship.

“Zach is pretty funny, and I have a pretty good sense of humor,” Warkentin said. “I just like to laugh at the jokes. I’m the audience.”

Jones’ positive outlook on life rubs off on others around him. He prefers the “glass is half-full, not half-empty” approach.

“Everything is a laugh to me. I can make everything funny,” he said. “I’m kind of a troublemaker. I have a lot of friends because of my humor.”

Participating in the mentor program isn’t all fun and games to Jones. When speaking of Warkentin’s impact in the short time they’ve been PALS, his demeanor becomes a little serious.

“It’s the big-brother effect, and how he’s helped me,” Jones said. “I used to not really be a big sports guy. In a way, he’s helping bring out my self-esteem in sports.”

When Minter asked Jones to compare his mentor to anyone else in his life on air, his reply left her nearly speechless.

“Have you had anyone else affect you this way?” she asked.

“My best friend, probably,” Jones said.

“Wow,” she replied.

Minter told Warkentin to relish every minute of the mentorship and friendship with Jones.

“Childhood goes by so fast, and it’s cool that you get to go back and enjoy it,” she told him.

For the next year, the PALS will share their time each week playing golf or watching funny movies. After graduation, Warkentin heads to the Navy, and eventually college, to become a nuclear engineer.

“I hope that when he’s out of college I can look him up and we can hang out more. He teaches me a lot,” Jones said. “He’s a mentor for YouthZone. And he’s a mentor in my life.”

And Warkentin is loving every minute of it.

Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601

YouthZone’s PALS mentor program matches kindergarten through eighth-grade children with teen and adult volunteers from Carbondale to Parachute. More than 23 children are waiting for mentors. YouthZone is hosting three PALS parties for those interested in mentoring. Meet PALS Pairs, YouthZone staff, enjoy food and refreshments, and find out more about the program. Information is available at YouthZone in Glenwood at 945-9300, Rifle at 625-3141, and on the Web at

PALS party dates:

– Glenwood Springs: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, YouthZone office. Contact: Patty Schaffner, 945-9300, 984-2880 or

– Carbondale: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, Dos Gringos Restaurant. Contact: Sarah Woods, 945-9300, ext. 15, or

– Rifle: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, YouthZone’s Rifle Office, 136 E. 12th St. Contact: Nancy MacGregor, 625-3141

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