YMCA to launch Reach and Rise mentoring

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

The YMCA of Selma-Dallas County is seeking applicants for its Reach and Rise Mentoring program.

The program is designed to provide role models to boys and girls ages 7-17 in communities challenged by crime, poverty and other social issues, according to YMCA.org.

“It has been proven to be very great and successful,” said Edith Obeng, volunteer program director. “Anyone who really wants to see a positive change in the young people in Selma should get involved.”

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The YMCA was recently awarded a $40,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (ADCANP). The grant money will be used to help finance expenses and activities for the yearlong mentoring program.

Ann Murray, Selma-Dallas County YMCA executive director, said the last mentoring program offered by the local YMCA was sometime during the mid-2000s and she is excited to have a mentoring program available again.

“This is what we do. We help facilitate these types of relationships,” Murray said. “We are so excited to involve the community and helping kids.”

Mentors must be aged 23 years or older. Both mentors and mentees will go through a screening process.

Although a year may seem like a long time, Murray said the length of the program is crucial for its effectiveness because “it just takes that long for the barriers to come down” between the mentor and mentee.

Murray hopes to have mentors and mentees paired within the next month.

According to Obeng, the mentor and mentee pairs will spend several hours a week together doing activities such as computer programing classes, sewing, basketball and other services offered at the YMCA. The pairs may also participate in group activities like bowling and other fun trips, Murray said.

Murray said she brought in the help of Obeng, therapeutic foster care supervisor at Christian Care Services for Children, because Obeng’s experiences with both social work and mentoring programs.

Obeng’s parents are from Ghana, West Africa, but she was raised in Germany. After completing the American equivalent of high school and one year of study of psychology in Germany, Obeng moved to Canada and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s in social work and sociology. While in Canada, Obeng was director of a YMCA mentoring program for five years.

Anyone interested in participating in the program as a mentor or mentee can pick up registration forms at the YMCA.

For more information about the program, contact the YMCA at 874-9622.