Making A Difference CARROLL COUNTY

November 23, 1992

Lynn McDonald is looking for 100 good adults. She is seeking out volunteers in Carroll County to spend a couple of hours each month listening, talking and connecting with teen-agers in need of some adult guidance.

In today's parlance, this activity is known as mentoring. But the concept has its origins in Greek mythology. Mentor was the loyal friend and adviser to Odysseus and eventually became the teacher of his son, Telemachus. The modern definition of mentor is a wise and loyal teacher -- the very type of person that Ms. McDonald is looking for.

Three years ago, Carroll starting a mentoring program for high school students who recognized they needed some help to make it through school and get some direction in life. The pilot program started with 10 students; last year, it expanded to 55 students. This year, there is twice the need.

Most adults have had some type of mentor at some point in their lives; someone who listens, encourages, guides and runs interference when necessary. More often than not, the mentor has provided, through actions more so than words, an example to emulate.

Many of the adolescents in this program have not made such a connection. Mentoring has become quite popular, but it also runs the risk of being oversold as a solution to society's problems. Some of the relationships between the teen-agers and the adults work out splendidly, and the teen-agers really turn around their lives. Other times, it is less successful. However, if adults are willing to hang in long enough, something good usually comes of the connection.

Mentoring offers Carroll County adults the opportunity to have a profound impact on a younger person's life. While teen-agers are the intended beneficiaries, the adults participating in the program also get something out of it. They can broaden their understanding of life in this county and have a meaningful experience in bettering someone's world. More importantly, they can become advocates for these kids.

An old saying in the Hebrew Talmud, "Save a single soul and you save the world," best describes the potential of Carroll's mentoring program. If you are interested in volunteering, call Ms. McDonald at 857-2693.

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