Mentor Michigan and former University of Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr announced the recipients of the 2010 Lloyd Carr MVP Mentoring Awards. The awards will be given to five youths in Michigan who best exemplify the extraordinary benefits of a mentoring relationship.
"Mentoring can have an impact on young people; often helping them improve their attitude, grades, and relationships," said Lloyd Carr, one of Mentor Michigan's current spokesmen. "These inaugural awards recognize those benefits and highlight five exceptional Michigan high school students."
The five recipients are all currently enrolled in high school and are engaged in formal mentoring matches. Each winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, courtesy of Mentor Michigan, to attend college or a trade school. An awards ceremony will be held on the campus of the University of Michigan on Monday, January 25, 2010. Mentor Michigan is an initiative of the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC).
"The importance of a college education is a significant conversation many mentors have with their mentees," said Paula Kaiser VanDam, executive director of the MCSC. "Mentor Michigan is pleased to be able to help support these young people's future goals and encourage their dreams."
The winners include:
- Michael Erhart of Iron River
Michael is a 17-year-old senior at West Iron County High School in the Upper Peninsula. He has been matched with his mentor, Ron Sykora, through a program called Kinship since 2004. Prior to Michael receiving a mentor he was a trouble youth - having faced some difficult adjustments growing up. Ron exposed Michael to new activities, including outdoor adventures, which continually built his self confidence and social skills. As he prepares for the next phase of his life he has reflected on the impact Ron has had on him, by showing him compassion and a level of caring far beyond what Michael had anticipated from a mentor.
- Bethany Houghton of Muskegon
Bethany is an 18-year-old senior at Muskegon Public High School. She has been matched with her mentor, Catherine Brubaker-Clarke, for the past year through the Mentor Muskegon High School and Muskegon Rotary Club STRIVE program. STRIVE is intended for first generation college-bound students who are matched with mentors who encourage them to develop goals, participate in joint activities, and follow the necessary steps to attend college. Since becoming matched, Bethany's self confidence has grown and her future desires have become more predominant. She has excelled at school and exhibited great pride in her accomplishments as she prepares to enter college in the fall to study Chemistry or Art.
- Beatriz Jacinto-Ventura of Lansing
Beatriz is a senior at Waverly High School. Originally from Guatemala, Beatriz moved to Michigan in the summer of 2008. She has been matched with her mentor, Salena Little, through the Refugee and Undocumented Youth program at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan since that time. Adjustment to a new country, being part of the foster care system, and learning English have been difficult for Beatriz. Salena has provided stability, encouragement, and support to her in the past year and a half - at a time when she had few others to turn to. Through her mentoring relationship, Beatriz has caught herself up at school, been exposed to a variety of future opportunities; including college, and grown into a confident, young woman in America.
- Floyd Johnson of Warren
Floyd is an 18-year-old senior at Community High School. He has been matched with his mentor, Michael Wacht, since February 2009 through the Winning Futures program. The goal of Winning Futures is to help young people discover their career and future aspirations and build the plans to reach them. Prior to be being matched, Floyd was struggling in school and had little ambition. In a few short months Michael's guidance has encouraged Floyd to work harder - in both the classroom and outside of it - and look forward to the future. He has rededicated himself to graduating on time and hopes to attend truck driving school and start his own business.
- Alfred (A.J.) Tate of Lansing
A.J. is a 16-year-old junior at Sexton High School. He has been matched with his mentor, Matthew Kirwin, since 2006 through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region program. Having grown up without a male-figure, A.J. has benefitted from building a relationship with Matthew. His mentor has stressed the importance of attending college after high school, challenging himself personally and academically, and being active in the community and in extracurricular activities. Matthew envisions A.J. as a future mentor himself, noting his extreme patience and kindness when interacting with other young people.
The 2010 Lloyd Carr MVP Mentoring Awards fall during the annual Michigan Mentoring Month, an event held every January to showcase the importance and impact of mentoring in communities across the state. Many mentoring programs in Michigan are in need of more mentors. If you are interested, visit the Mentor Michigan Directory located at www.mentormichigan.org.