By Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– The Mvskoke Nation Youth Services are excited to be bringing back their mentoring program for students.
According to Mvskoke Youth Services Specialist Samantha Coon, the mentoring program first started in 2019 when youth services met with members of Wetumka community. One of their main purposes for this program is to making solid connections with positive tribal citizens.
“One of the needs for a lot of our youth within the reservation was missing a connection to healthy adult relationships,” Coon said. “It was more of having someone guide them, outside of their family.”
Before the mentoring program was established, youth services were thinking of ways they could help a smaller community with mentoring or after school programs to have a good introduction to the program. They hope to expand the mentoring program in the future.
After discussing policies and what to do for the program through advisory meetings, it all started to fall into place later in 2019. Coon began working with Director of Youth Services Nancy Mason on mission statements and what they would like to see in the program.
“It was exciting to see how it started, and where it’s still going,” Coon said.
Earlier in 2020 they had launched the mentoring program, planning an activity over spring break with their youth until the pandemic hit and everything was shut down. Feeling bummed about what happened, Coon is excited for a re-launch in 2021.
“This past year we didn’t get to pilot what we wanted to do, but now we can rethink of how we can do the work,” Mason added. “We have looked at virtual ways to do mentoring, and so we have a platform we utilize for other things with the youth.”
For January Mason said they are set to begin recruiting for virtual mentoring and planning for some face-to-face meetings. January is National Mentoring Month and Coon and Mason are set to have an activity every week. Packets of information will be sent out to all the departments, communities, churches and ceremonial grounds.
“Every entity we want to send information, we send it out so they know what our program is and share it with their members,” Mason said.
There are several national dates in January that the youth services will take advantage of, Jan. 7 is “I am a Mentor Day.” On this day Youth Services are wanting to highlight some mentoring relationships.
Jan. 11 Youth Services want to host an online orientation where anyone can login to learn more about the mentoring program. Some of the information will include who is eligible and time commitments.
Jan. 29 will be “Thank Your Mentor Day,” and Youth Services will provide an opportunity to do so.
“The third week is around service, which we haven’t decided what that will look like but we’ll definitely have a push for every week,” Mason said. “We’re more focused on recruiting mentors right now.”
The recruitment process for mentors is important, so Youth Services will have volunteers to serve as mentors before accepting mentee applications. Mentor’s will meet with their mentee on a weekly basis for one-hour for nine months.
Coon and Mason are really hoping for more mentors just because they had four to begin with in 2020. Applications are available for mentors now. There are two applications for mentees, one is for someone who wants to join the program. The second application will be a referral for someone who knows another person that might be interested.
Not knowing how long the pandemic will last, Coon and Mason have a back-up plan for the mentoring program. They are looking at what planned events are scheduled for in-person and how they can be done online.
For more information on the Mentoring Program and for applications visit https://www.mvskokeyouth.com/mvskokementors.
Any other questions contact Samantha Coon at email@example.com or 918-549-2597.