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Mentoring in Indiana: A Little Time Can Go a Long Way

January 28, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Experts say many young children don't have enough positive adult role models in their lives, but in Indiana, hundreds of volunteer mentors are helping to fill that gap.

According to Steven Wornhoff of Lebanon, who was a mentor to Josh Wilson for seven years, the experience was very special, and he was able to help Josh overcome the difficulties of growing up in an impoverished situation. While they did go to ball games and movies, Wornhoff said, just spending time together made a difference.

"A lot of it was helping with homework, and him seeing me interact with my family and my wife, and seeing me come home from work and mow the grass and all those sorts of things," Wornhoff recalled. "A lot of it was just spending time together, and being a role model."

Wornoff said Wilson is now grown and on his own, and is paying it forward by mentoring a young boy himself.

January is National Mentoring Month, and organizations including the Indiana Youth Institute and Big Brothers, Big Sisters are encouraging Hoosiers to just give a little time to help children in the state who could use positive guidance in their lives.

Josh Wilson recalled that Wornhoff taught him real-life skills, and helped him to see what a successful adult is supposed to be like. He's been a mentor himself, to a 13-year-old, now for three years, and he said it doesn't take a lot of money or time to give back.

"We continue to have more and more single-parent households," he observed. "You know, just a couple of hours a week can make a huge difference in helping somebody to get on the right path. I think as a society we're starting to get to a point where we've forgotten what it's like to be a community and I'm a firm believer in 'It takes a village to raise a child.'"

Research has shown that mentors can play a role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence and can help boost academic achievement. More information on mentoring is available at ABetterHour.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN