Partners in Routt County mentor Nicole Williams, right, takes her partner, Lluvia, 14, bowling Wednesday. Lluvia scored two strikes in the first four frames.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Partners in Routt County mentor Nicole Williams, right, takes her partner, Lluvia, 14, bowling Wednesday. Lluvia scored two strikes in the first four frames.

Group works toward creating partnerships

Organization celebrates Mentoring Month

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To volunteer to be a mentor with Partners in Routt County, or for more information about how to become a younger partner, call 879-6141.

— When Nicole Williams began working with Partners in Routt County, she was paired with Lluvia, a 14-year-old girl who recently had arrived in Steamboat Springs and spoke little English. Lluvia was shy and quiet, Williams said, but after nearly a year of activities and time together, Lluvia has become confident, well-spoken and more outgoing.

Williams and Lluvia are one of about 40 pairs created through Partners, a program designed to work with children who need extra assistance and guidance through positive role models and activities.

Libby Foster, executive director of Partners, said the National Mentoring Month of January is also a time for the group to focus on the adult partners who donate a few hours a week to work with youths across Routt County.

The first of those activities is a mixer Jan. 13, to allow the elder mentors to meet other local volunteers. A time and location for the event are not finalized.

Community outreach assistant Allison Holt said the event will be helpful for older partners to make connections with other volunteers.

"It's a night where we can honor all of the mentors we have working with partners. Most of our events center around kids or fundraising," she said. "This is an evening where we can say thank you to the mentors involved."

Foster said the event also is an important recruiting tool as any potential mentors also are invited to the event. Foster said the group is constantly in search of new volunteers, especially males and partners in rural areas near Hayden and Oak Creek.

"We're always looking for new mentors, and we're encouraging everybody to bring people who may be interested in mentoring to the event," she said.

Foster said there are 25 students still on the waiting list this year to find partners, a number she expects to increase in coming months.

"Given the tough year that's approaching, we'll probably have more youth referrals, so I imagine that waiting list will jump up because families will be struggling a bit more," she said.

Becoming a partner takes a commitment to a minimum average of three hours a week, an interview and a background check, Foster said. Partners are requested to make a 12-month commitment so the student will be provided some level of consistency in the mentorship program, something Williams agreed was important in her relationship.

"When I first started with her it was pulling teeth to get her to answer a question without a yes or no answer, let alone start up a conversation," Williams said. Now Lluvia is a confident speaker and is comfortable addressing adults in English and Spanish, Williams said.

Activities older partners can do with their younger partners include hiking, camping, cooking, skiing or snowboarding or just a simple drive around town, Foster said.

"Some (partners) just enjoy getting a cup of hot cocoa and talking about life. It doesn't have to be dazzle-dazzle all the time," she said.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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