Arundel agency looking for a few good mentors


April 30, 2001|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHRISTINE POULSEN is looking for a few good people who can be all that they can be -- for an hour a week.

She is special programs manager for the county Department of Social Services and in need of adult mentors for children ages 7 to 19.

"One hour a week is all it takes to make a difference in a young person's life," she said. "One hour goes a long way in helping a young person achieve success in school and life."

Poulsen estimates that Anne Arundel County has 100 households with children who could benefit from mentors. A potential mentor, she explained, comes in for an interview and details of the program, and fingerprinting as part of a background check.

"We're protecting children, after all," she said.

A training session of two to three hours comes next. "We talk about mentoring different types of cases, what's appropriate, what's not appropriate," Poulsen said.

The mentor then meets the family in the company of a social worker. "The relationship starts in a very structured format," Poulsen said. The social worker will make the judgment whether a mentor and a youngster are appropriately matched.

"The hours are flexible," she said. "A mentor works on his or her schedule and the family's schedule."

Poulsen said volunteers should count on making a yearlong commitment. "An early break in the relationship destroys trust," she said. "The youngster asks, `Why are you doing this?' They don't understand why someone might break off something that might have become important to them."

Rich Scordo of Annapolis and Ursula Nevius of Shady Side are two who have stepped forward and are in the early stages of preparing to participate. Both gave the impression that what they're doing is not that big a deal.

Scordo, 34, has a disability that prohibits him from driving and limits what he can do professionally. He has, he said, a lot of time on his hands.

"Some people may think I'm doing this because I'm bored out of my skull," Scordo said. "But that's not the case. I really think it's important to do this. I was raised in a middle-class Catholic family in New York where I was always given this idea of having to reach out."

He hopes to reach out by calling on his organizational and marketing skills as a former sales manager for a telecommunications company. "I want to be a recruiter for this program," he said, "by calling on businesses, churches and dot-coms and sell them this mentoring program to urge them to take these young people under their wings."

Nevius, 64, seemed similarly disposed.

"I've always believed in volunteerism," said Nevius, an office manager for a construction company. "I'm at a stage in life where I think I can do this. I have the health and the free time. I just read a piece in the local paper looking for mentoring volunteers, so I decided to try it, to help make a difference."

"Maybe just say it's altruism," Nevius said of her goal. "I've had this dream that if I had millions of dollars, I think I would like to be a philanthropist and just give it away."

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can call the Department of Social Services in Annapolis at 410-269-4460.

Maritime festival

Warm-season festivities around Annapolis City Dock begin this weekend with Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Eastern Shore singer-songwriter Janie Meneely will launch the stage entertainment at noon Friday, and the music and fun will continue pretty much nonstop. It also includes maritime exhibits, folklorists and performers.

An outdoor stage will be at Susan C. Campbell Park at the end of City Dock, with U.S. Coast Guard cutter James Rankin and the Pride of Baltimore II as backdrops.

Friday's program includes an official opening ceremony at 2 p.m., with remarks by Mayor Dean L. Johnson, County Executive Janet S. Owens, and U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who will dedicate City Dock and the Pride as official Chesapeake Gateways Sites in the National Park Service's new Chesapeake Gateways and Waterways initiative.

Saturday's schedule will include fife and drum performances sponsored by Historic Annapolis Foundation at Shiplap House on Pinkney Street. It also is sponsoring a concert by a brass quintet from Annapolis Symphony Orchestra at 7 p.m. in William Paca Garden on Prince George Street, for which admission will be charged.

Sunday's program includes a performance at 3 p.m. by Them Eastport Oyster Boys, Kevin Brooks and Jeff Holland. At 4 p.m., the U.S. Naval Academy Band will perform before and after induction ceremonies for the 2001 entries into the Maritime Hall of Fame.

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