We all know amazing seniors in our lives that are constantly giving. Perhaps it’s a grandparent, an uncle or aunt, or even an elderly neighbor. Regardless, thoughtful counsel that comes from decades of experience never goes out of style. And in many cases, the best is yet to come as some seniors aren’t quite done contributing.
In addition to the wisdom of their years of life experience, perhaps the greatest mentoring gift seniors can offer is their time and attention. Many seniors who are retired enjoying their golden years, decide to spend time helping others, especially impressionable young people.
One of the more successful programs is the Clarke County Mentor Program, which was established more than 20 years ago by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and the Clarke County School District. In this special program, a senior mentor “…acts as a listener, role model and friend,” and, “encourages students to stay in school, to develop a better attitude about school and to avoid the temptations that keep students from reaching their academic goals.”
More than 250 local citizens receive training in the mentor program each year, with more than 500 mentors in the program. The program requires a one year commitment, although some volunteers have been involved in mentoring Athens-Clarke County students for more than a decade. And it should come as no surprise that every school in the county has a waiting list of youngsters eager to benefit from the program.
The Clarke County Mentor Program is just one of the area’s excellent mentor programs, which also includes HandsOn Northeast Georgia, the Athens Tutorial Program, the Foster Grandparent Program and Whatever It Takes Athens. A good place for seniors to begin their mentoring search is the Athens Community Council on Aging.
The good news is that there will be a steady supply of senior mentors for years to come. Over the next two decades, 10,000 “baby boomers” will turn 65 every day, meaning that during that time period, we can expect to have some 75 million seniors to call upon for service. How wonderful to have local programs in Athens that help both our young and our old.