By Tayler Huntley
This past year has brought about a wide variety of necessary changes, and several organizations have had to adapt. Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ourary is one of these organizations.
Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ourary, a youth mentoring program — Partners and Art Partners — is a non-profit organization that provides children with one-on-one mentoring partnerships that provide positive adult figures in their lives.
¨We have been around for [about] 30 years,¨ said Jan Pauly, Art Partners case manager. ¨We recruit mentors, adults in the community to mentor kids 6 to 17.¨
In order for a child or teen to enter the Partners program, they need to be referred. These referrals can come from a teacher at school or from another adult in the community. The referral can come from the child for the Art Partners program.
Once the child is accepted into the program they are interviewed and asked what they like to do. Then they are matched with a screened adult that shares similar interests.
¨Research has proven that the more adults a kid has in their lives the better they do. The better decisions they make as they get older,¨ said Pauly. ¨A lot of our kids have gone through our program and have become very successful adults.¨
Both Partners and Art Partners programs rely on mentors. Having people throughout Montrose, Delta and Ouray counties dedicate time to spend with the youth is key. The month of January was Mentoring Month where the organization thanked all of its mentors.
¨We also recognize them once a year in June. We do a volunteer appreciation dinner,¨ said Delta County Case Manager Kiersten Mumm.
This organization is always in need of mentors, especially male mentors and creative people. These organizations would also like to emphasize that adults who are interested in mentoring are not required to have a specialty or something that they are really good at. Partners is just looking for positive adults that want to have fun and be a good role model.
Being a mentor is not a big time commitment. The programs require that the adult mentor and the mentee (the child) spend three hours a week together. These partnerships go for a full year, and often last longer and in some cases last a lifetime.
¨I have two mentees,¨ said Pauly, continuing to talk about one mentee, ¨she ended up with COVID so we couldn’t see each other, we haven’t been doing art together so we’ve been gaming online together.¨
The programs offer a lot of activities the children and teens can participate in outside their one-on-one time with their mentors. Due to the COVID pandemic the organization has had to create different activities that are still interactive but abides by safety regulations.
¨It’s so much fun creating new opportunities for both the mentors and kids. We work with The Nature Connection a lot,¨ said Mumm.¨We did mountain bike clinics last fall and that was such a blast.¨
According Pauly, one activity Partners recently did was fun but also educational as the hosts included information about safety online.
¨(We held) a pizza party and the kids just had a riot” she said. “It was over zoom. We gave them all the material, the dough and the pepperoni and cheese and everything. We did a cooking show where (Mumm) made the pizza and we were telling jokes. We also put in some cyber security stuff, because we were online doing this.¨
Another activity Partners is planning on for mentees and mentors is a day of ice fishing.