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2013 Excellence in Mentoring Award Recipients

January 7, 2013 (DES MOINES) - The recipients of the 2013 Excellence in Mentoring Award have recently been announced by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.  The awards will be presented in Des Moines during a special recognition ceremony to be held in conjunction with the annual Mentoring Day on the Hill on January 17, 2013.

Mentoring Day on the Hill and the Excellence in Mentoring Award ceremony serves as the annual premier event for Mentoring Month in Iowa.  Mentoring Day on the Hill, which will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1p.m. in the state capitol rotunda, will provide an opportunity for legislators and the public to learn more about how mentoring is playing an integral role in fulfilling Iowa's Promise to children and youth.  Iowa's Promise seeks to improve the lives of young people by fulfilling five promises: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve. The Excellence in Mentoring Award ceremony will begin at 2p.m. in the east wing of the rotunda.  Both events are open to the public.

"We know Iowans have a strong ethic and history of serving others, but there are still thousands of Iowa children who are waiting for a mentor this new year," said Adam Lounsbury, Executive Director of the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.  "We ask the public to not only join us in honoring a few of Iowa's most outstanding mentors but also challenge more Iowans to volunteer as mentors in 2013."

The five recipients of the 2013 Excellence in Mentoring Award include:

Tom Dickerson of Sioux City has served as a "Big Brother" with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland for six years. Tom and his wife have helped establish a routine for his "Little Brother's" success in school-including preparation, transportation, homework completion, and communication with teachers. Tom and his mentee also enjoy golfing. As a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland's "Big Council", he has offered support to new mentoring matches that needed some reassurance to flourish. Tom and his mentee are advocates for their program; speaking regularly at community meetings about the power of mentoring and encouraging others to become mentors. At one of these events, Tom offered to match the first five new mentor's applications with a cash donation to the program.

Debbie Fuller of Cedar Rapids has served as a "Big Sister" with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Iowa for almost four years. To improve her "Little Sister's" academic performance, Debbie has acted as the liaison between the school and her mentee's parent. She helps to arrange participation in parent-teacher conferences, regular communication with her mentee's teacher, and homework completion. Debbie recently nominated her mentee to receive 40 donated sessions of professional tutoring services, which she was awarded, leading Debbie to engage the parent to transport and support the child in sessions twice a week. Debbie helps her mentee develop life skills like cooking, neighborhood safety, and being open to new cultural experiences. Debbie has also become an outstanding advocate for the program, both as a recruiter and a fundraiser.

Patrick M. Kremer of Marshalltown has served as a "Big Brother" since 1976. In those 36 years of involvement, he has mentored five young men. Prior to retirement, Mr. Kremer was employed as the Associate Superintendent of the Marshalltown School District. In this role, he was instrumental in establishing a school-based mentoring program for the district in partnership with Heart of Iowa Big Brothers Big Sisters. Through Heart of Iowa Big Brothers Big Sisters, he is currently matched with a seventh grade youth, who he has mentored since the boy was in third grade. Together, they enjoy biking, running and volunteering. Mr. Kremer believes it's important to promote hard work at school, trusting relationships with adults, and coping with life's challenges in a healthy manner.

Stephen Milder of Maynard helped to establish Siblings By Choice mentoring program in the West Central School District. Since 2007, the program has grown from five matches to 40 matches. Stephen mentored two high school students during this time. His first mentee went on to graduate from West Central at the top of his class. Stephen's second mentee graduated from West Central in 2012 and nominated him for this honor. His mentee wrote of his family, housing, and financial struggles that brought him close to dropping out of school. Doubling as his mentee's athletic coach, Stephen helped his mentee stay in school, build self-esteem, find local employment, and apply for college. By graduation, his mentee received a full-year scholarship for tuition and books and was awarded the American Bar Association's Citizenship Award. Said his mentee, "I would have been lost without my mentor.I will not let his effort go to waste."

Lowell Tesch of Osage served on the advisory committee that established Bridges Mentoring Program in 1999. He and his mentee were among the first to be matched, and they have continued their mentoring relationship to this day. For the past 11 years, Lowell has helped his mentee to build self-esteem by helping make school a priority, learning life skills like cooking and driving, and getting involved in activities like athletics and FFA-for which his mentee has won state-level awards. When his mentee turned 16, Lowell donated an old car to him, which his mentee has gratefully maintained responsibly. Lowell's mentee will graduate from high school in May. Lowell has been a strong supporter of the program from day one-recruiting mentors, organizing service projects, and encouraging donations and community support.

Mentoring Day on the Hill and the Excellence in Mentoring Award are coordinated by the Iowa Mentoring Partnership, the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and the Governor's Office.  For more information, visitwww.iowamentoring.orgwww.volunteeriowa.org, e-mail mentor@iowa.gov or call 800.308.5987.


The 2012 Coaches’ Challenge in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska — a friendly contest of who can sign up the most mentors, led by head coaches Bill Snyder, Kansas State University; Charlie Weis, University of Kansas; Kirk Ferentz, University of Iowa; Paul Rhoads, Iowa State; Mark Farley, University of Northern Iowa; and Bo Pelini, University of Nebraska — has ended, with undefeated champion Kansas taking home the trophy and almost 7,500 mentors recruited overall.

The Coaches’ Challenge launched in 2008, when Kansas State University’s Coach Bill Snyder and Nebraska’s Athletic Director and former Coach Tom Osborne — both advocates for youth mentoring — made their first wager on which state could recruit the most mentors during the college football season.“Mentoring is a cost-effective and proven intervention that not only provides a safe and positive role model for our youth, but also gives individuals in our communities a way to support their young people,” said Snyder. Competition ramped up in 2011, when Iowa joined, making it a three-state challenge.

Iowa and Nebraska were eager this year to topple Kansas, which recruited more than 4,300 new mentors and more than 22,300 new mentors over the life of the contest to date.

“The Coaches’ Challenge has brought such energy and success to our recruitment efforts,” said Kansas Mentors Director Nicolette Geisler. “We are grateful to these leaders in our states for using this fun platform to highlight the need for more caring, adult mentors, as well as the positive change quality mentoring can make in a child’s academic achievement, self-esteem and behavior.”

“The Coaches Challenge has been a great campaign for our chapters to rally around for recruiting.  It gives our programs a ‘season’ of recruiting that is more focused and intentional,” commented Executive Director of TeamMates Mentoring Program Suzanne Hince.

For more information about the Coaches’ Challenge in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, visit Kansas Mentors at www.KansasMentors.org ; the Iowa Mentoring Partnership at www.iowamentoring.org; or Teammates Mentoring Program at www.teammates.org. For more information and resources about quality youth mentoring, as well as MENTOR’s network of Mentoring Partnerships, visit www.mentoring.org

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