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PALS mentoring creates lasting memories

Having been a YouthZone PALS Mentor coordinator for 15 years, I have a lot of stories to tell. One of my favorite stories comes from a recent Mentoring Match. The Teen PAL, Lonnie, was volunteering at a basketball camp with her high school coach. She wanted to get her Junior PAL, Chelsey, involved, as well as Chelsey’s two younger siblings, so Lonnie asked her coach if they could come even though they were unable to pay the registration fee. The coach chose to waive the fee for the three children and included them in the camp. Lonnie transported her Junior PAL and siblings to camp. Upon arrival, Lonnie’s coach noticed that the children’s shoes were inadequate, so he personally provided the money for Lonnie to take the children out to purchase shoes. Lonnie provided transportation to and from camp for the duration, and Chelsey and her siblings were stars in their new shoes. Everyone was a winner!Another story was told to me by a Junior PAL’s grandma. Grandma had gone to her granddaughter’s Back to School night, and each child had drawn a picture of their family. This little girl had drawn her family and included an additional person. Upon questioning, the little girl replied that the extra person in her family drawing was her Teen PAL Mentor. One of the most rewarding experiences in working with the same program for so long is to have previous Junior PALS come forward to be teen or adult PALS Mentors because they want to give back to their community and to organizations that made such a positive difference in their lives. The PALS Mentoring program and all other YouthZone programs focus on connecting families and youth to their community. The flip side of that focus is providing opportunities for community members to connect with youth and families. This is accomplished through the PALS Mentor program. PALS Mentors can be adults or high school teens who truly want to be a guiding friend in a child’s life. We encourage PALS Mentors to just be themselves and have fun. YouthZone is hosting three open houses to celebrate almost three decades of PALS Mentoring. I invite you to come join us for yummy appetizers, a warm and friendly atmosphere and a special presentation on PALS Mentoring. Presentations are at the Glenwood Springs YouthZone Office (803 School St.) from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 17; the Rifle YouthZone Office (136 E. 12th St.) from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 27; and Carbondale (call for details – 945-9300) from 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 3.You are invited to one or all three celebrations. If you are not able to attend and want more information on how to become a PALS Mentor, get your child involved with YouthZone, or want to assist the PALS Program in any way, give us a call at 945-9300 or 625-3141.Patty Schaffner is on the PALS program staff at YouthZone.


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