The REACH Mentoring Program (Recreational Experiences Achieving Community Harmony) was established in 2000 and received its 501 (c) 3 status in 2003. REACH matches adult volunteer mentors with youth (or mentees) and peer mentors with mentees, as well as participating in group mentoring activities. Any youth between 8-18 years old who lives in or attends school in Carlton County who wants to have a mentor qualifies for one through the REACH Program. Today, participates involved in REACH are recruited/referred through schools, faith communities, and service organizations across Carlton County or directly signed up by a parent or guardian.
Our Four Cornerstones
Our main objective is to provide supportive and meaningful mentoring relationships to the youth of Carlton County. To achieve this, we created four parts to our mentoring program.
#1 The first is peer mentoring. We work with the high schools and colleges to both mentor and tutor our mentees one-on-one. Many of the mentees can relate to the youth of their mentor. The mentor isn’t viewed as another authority figure, but as a positive role model and friend.
#2 The second is adult mentoring. Here we match volunteers in the community with a mentee. They participate in one-on-one mentoring and build a positive relationship with the mentee. Both with adult and peer mentoring, we ask the mentor to commit for 12 months, and meet at least once a week for an hour. The mentor and mentee sign a contract with each other and then begin their journey.
#3 The third category of the program is facilitators, social workers, probation officers, etc. mentoring youth. This can work a couple different ways. The youth of one of these professionals may request to have a mentor or not one at all. These professionals can go on outings with their clients, build relationships, and act as the mentor in some cases through REACH But if the youth requests to have a mentor, they get to participate with both their professional worker and their mentor. This is most common in category four.
#4 The fourth category is group mentoring. Mainly, this is where one or two volunteers/mentors facilitate group activities. This can be a one time activity or a regular activity with the same group of young people/mentees or this may be open to the program participants as a whole. This decision comes from the desires of the volunteer and based on the interest of the volunteer. This is our most flexible area of the program.
In past years, the youth activities have included recreational, social, and service-based endeavors. Group activities have included skiing and snowboarding, hockey games, canoeing, movies, bowling, and all different kinds of sports. To ensure our youth has time to develop relationships, we also include social activities like sleigh rides, picnics, team building activities, and one-on-one time with mentors. Finally, we encourage our youth to embrace service-based activities. Our three most successful are tutoring, snow shoveling, and bell ringing for the Salvation Army.
One of the biggest strengths of our organization is the strong ties we have with the schools, human services, corrections, and the community.
A challenge we face is the high numbers of mentees waiting on a waiting list to be matched with a mentor. We need to recruit more mentors to meet the demand of mentees.
One of the biggest accomplishments of our program is when a former mentee becomes a mentor, or becomes involved in other organizations that focus on giving back to the community.