Teen mentor program may go national

Two Lycoming College students discussed a new mentor program, “The Helping Hand,” during the James V. Brown Library board of trustees meeting.

Trenton Jones, director of the program and a junior at Lycoming College, and Zenna Taylor, director of public relations of the program and a sophomore at Lycoming College, presented the information about mentoring.

Jones said the program was founded because of his experience working with youths who fell behind in the education system.

“Some teachers gave up on them or they felt like they weren’t smart enough,” Jones said. “That became a reoccurring theme … And the idea started to roll about how can I help? I’m a caring person, and I believe that everyone is smart. Everyone has different capabilities.”

He said he brought the idea to the library and worked to create a mentoring program.

“I do my own research,” he said. “As a start-up program, it’s one thing to start up but it’s another to do research on the actual problem you’re trying to address.”

Jones said he found that in the Williamsport area alone, 33 to 40 percent of minority students in high school drop out of school.

“It’s low compared to the national average of high school drop out rate,” he said. “However, 33 to 40 percent is still high to me because I feel like no kid or individual should be left behind in the educational system, period.”

This gave the program their primary mission, which is to promote admiration for higher education and to inspire and advocate setting goals, according to Jones.

The program reaches out to mentees, individuals aged 12-17, and asks them to spend at least two hours a week with a mentor. They can meet at the library from 3-5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the hours are 9 a.m.-noon at the Learning Center.

Jones said he has been invited to present the program at a conference in New Mexico later this year to discuss the possibility of growing the program on a national scale. He said he will keep the library updated on any upcoming news.

For more information on the mentoring program, Taylor said the website can be reached at www.jvb-helpinghand.weebly.com.

In other business, Barbara S. McGary, executive director of the James V. Brown Library, said that 14,734 citizens visited the library in person during the month of March and 20,978 visited online.

The library lended 30,877 physical items and 3,020 electronic items in March, and the library served 1,186 people in 91 programs with 790 volunteer hours for March.

She said the One Book Fair on April 7 was a success.

“We are seeing more and new families come in all the time, and one way we attract new families is our PA One Book Fair and Outreach,” she said.

She said activities and different kinds of development for children were available at the fair, and 86 children and adults attended the program.

“It was pretty wonderful, and every child that came received a PA One Book for their home library,” she said.

McGary said the Storymobile serves to take library services to children outside of the library like in child care facilities and homes throughout the county, reaching 750 children. She said they are always looking for ways to reach more children.

“We try to work with the community on transportation issues. We would really love to have a stronger partnership, maybe with River Valley, to get these kids to be able to come to the library. That’s something that’s ongoing,” she said.

McGary said that with what they have, the staff still reaches a great amount of children in the area and helps encourage literacy.

“Our youth service staff is top-notch,” she said. “I am so proud of what they do.”

The next board of trustees meeting will be at noon on May 18.