A fairly new program with Ryves Youth Center hopes to address some valuable quality time with the center’s kids. All it takes is a few hours a week and the impact can be everlasting.
Many parents out there will tell you, it’s not easy giving the time and dedication to their kids every day. With multiple financial and all around well-being stresses that time is even more limited. But the ball is now in the Ryves Youth Center court.
“I have bad anger issues,” Dimond Martin said.
Soon to be fourteen, Dimond is the oldest of five siblings. She doesn’t shy away when asked some of the things she’s working on with her mentor Sandy Wickware.
“I wanted to work with her so she’d mellow out some,” Sandy said.
The two were a natural match.
“Dimond is sort of a kid like I was, so I was interested in working with her.”
The youth center’s mentor program requires a minimum of two hours a week for mentors to meet with mentees. They cover everything from homework, problems at school or just simply lending a pair of listening ears.
“Since I’ve talked to Sandy, my attitude has improved a lot,” Dimond said.
Sandy, a dedicated community volunteer, trained for the program for a month. She spends about four days a week at the center.
Sandy says she didn’t have a mentor growing up and Dimond reminds her of a younger version of herself.
“I acted up and I didn’t have anybody to talk to and that’s why I would like to help her,” Sandy said.
And it’s paying off.
“A lot of little kids here look up to me… There might be one or two out of them who fight. I just sit them down and talk to them and calm them down. And then I send them off to play and they all are friends again,” Dimond said.
Ryves Youth Center sees fourteen hundred kids through it’s doors every day. Right now they only have about 8 mentors and “matches” for their program. They’re still looking for volunteers to dedicate a few hours a week to spend some time with their kids.
The mentor program receives grant money from the juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. It funds three years of training for the program and covers 33 matches within that period.