Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recruiting during Welcome Week at a College

Mendy Stone, executive director of Volunteers for Youth, Rogers County, shares one effective and fun strategy.

We just spent from 10 am to 2 pm today on the campus at Rogers State University (RSU) in Claremore. This is Welcome Week, and one of their activities is to host “Big Tent Day.” 

Cindy Vanaman, PAL. Stone is holding the red cup. 
In the blue shirt is PAL Mentor of the Year 2014, Gus Ramirez.
Two big tents provided table space for all kinds of on-campus clubs, local businesses, and volunteer opportunities. 

We have a good number of great prospects. We attracted them to the table with fresh popcorn, and our conversation started with 

“May we tell you about the volunteer opportunities at our organization?”

At least four of the senses are covered here!

All sidewalks lead to V4Y and popcorn!

Melynda Stone
Executive Director
Volunteers for Youth

Shared 8-13-14

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Importance of Coaches

We found this in a tweet by the Chronicle of Evidence-based Mentoring, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Items a) through h) can be the goals, not just outcomes, for all coaching-mentoring. CEBM posted this research in support of the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge 2014. 

Why coaches matter: Implications for mentoring By Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll
Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll are Professors of Psychology at the University of Washington and co-directors of the Youth Enrichment in Sports Project. The website contains descriptions of the coach and parent interventions and of their underlying scientific studies. Their book, Sports Psychology for Youth Coaches: Developing Champions in Youth and Life is a must-read for anyone interested in this important topic.
Today, approximately 68 million children and youth between the ages of 6 and 16 participate in athletic programs in the United States. There is strong scientific evidence that an important determinant of youth sport outcomes (which are not always positive) lies in the relationship between coach and athlete, and that a relatively brief and economical educational intervention can enhance the experiences of both athletes and coaches alike. In our Youth Enrichment in Sport Project, we have done research over the past three decades to determine the effects of coaching behaviors on children. In one series of studies, trained observers coded more than 100,000 coaching behaviors during practices and games to create behavioral profiles of numerous coaches, then assessed the attitudes of their athletes after the season. Clear behavior-outcome relations emerged, and we then applied this information to create an evidence-based intervention for coaches
Because we know from our research the kind of sport environment that has the most positive effects on youngsters, we can communicate clear behavioral guidelines (coaching and parenting “do’s” and “don’t’s”) in a workshop format. In a series of experimental program evaluation studies, we and other sport psychologists have shown that our Mastery Approach to Coaching intervention 
(a) fosters positive coach-athlete relations and greater mutual respect. 
(b) increases the amount of fun that athletes experience; 
(c) creates greater team cohesion and a more supportive athletic setting; 
(d) promotes higher mastery-oriented achievement goals in sports and in school; 
(e) increases athletes’ self-esteem; 
(f) reduces performance-destroying anxiety and fear of failure; 
(g) decreases athlete dropout rates from approximately 30% to 5% regardless of won/lost records, and 
(h) has equally positive effects on male and female athletes. 
Consistently, we find that the coach-athlete relationship is far more important than winning records in determining children’s liking and desire to play for the coach in the future. Moreover, the 75-minute Mastery Approach workshops, far from being perceived as burdensome, are very well received by coaches who later report that applying the principles not only created a more enjoyable season for their athletes and themselves, but also positively influenced their own parenting practices. More recently, in an effort to get coaches and parents on the same page, we have developed a companion Mastery Approach program for parents of young athletes.
Given the success of these brief evidence-based interventions, we have entered the dissemination phase of our work. With the support of the William T. Grant Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting children’s welfare, we have transformed the coach and parent workshops into 60-minute DVDs and have recently published “how-to” books on the Mastery Approach to assist coaches and parents in promoting children’s growth through sports. Information on these materials is available on our project website ( We would be happy if every sport program in the country profited from what we have learned and produced.
We are convinced that any program disseminated to coaches and parents should have a sound scientific basis and evidence for its effectiveness. If we want sport participation to have its desired positive impact on the lives and development of young athletes, coach (and parent) education is not only feasible, but essential.
By Jean Rhodes October 1, 2012


Ret. 8-12-14

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Recruiting, Omaha Style

We like this idea of the city-wide mentor recruitment. What could your city or county do?
The Second Annual City-Wide Mentor Recruitment Campaign is Here!
By Whitney Mastin
August 1st marked the start of the 2nd Annual City-wide Mentor Recruitment Campaign for Midlands Mentoring Partnership (MMP). Midlands Mentoring Partnership is a Collective Impact organization that partners with 11 mentoring agencies in the Omaha area to increase both the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships.
MMP Partner Organizations:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the MidlandsGirls Incorporated of Omaha
Hope Center for Kids
Kent Bellows Mentoring Program
Kids Can Community Center
Ollie Webb Inc.
Partnership 4 Kids
Release Ministries
TeamMates Mentoring Program
Youth Emergency Services
100 Black Men of Omaha, Inc.
In Omaha alone, there are 30,000 youth living under the poverty line. Of those 30,000, only 3000 have been fortunate enough to gain the helpful guidance and support of a formal mentor. “Our youth can grow into responsible and contributing members of society with the right supports in place, and for only four hours a month, each of us can make a significant difference,” said John Ewing, MMP Board Member. During the 2014 recruitment campaign, MMP, along with its partners, aims to recruit more than 640 additional mentors to support the youth in our community.
Quality Mentoring Relationships in the Community Can Lead to:
Fewer teen dropouts
A decrease in teen substance abuse
Fewer teen pregnancies
A more engaged workforce for businesses who have employees that mentor
On Wednesday, August 4, 2014, MMP kicked off its campaign with a press conference that included remarks from Mayor Jean Stothert, and President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber, David Brown. Mayor Stothert encouraged Omaha citizens to learn more about becoming a mentor, while David Brown stated “We don’t coast—we mentor!” MMP Board President, Julie Hefflinger may have said it best when she stated, “Regardless of your background or age, the greatest gift you have to offer a young person is your genuine interest in their life and your willingness to listen attentively to them. Mentoring experiences come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but all mentors help young people achieve their potential and discover their strengths.”
Interested in becoming a mentor? Want to learn more about the programs you volunteer for? Visit to find out which program is best for you. You can also find more information and follow our campaign progress on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter.
Ret. 8-11-14

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coach Encourages Team to Join Camp Fire

John Wolfkill
Executive Director
KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory
From the perspective of a former player who is now reflecting back on his experience as a youth...

When I was in elementary school, I played baseball on the Rangers. Although I knew several of my team mates at the beginning of the baseball season, about half the team attended different elementary schools. Initially, all we had in common was our love of baseball and the uniform we wore. 

To help us grow as a team, our coach encouraged all of us to join a local Camp Fire club. Through our weekly practice, weekly Camp Fire club, and the host of other Camp Fire activities (camp outs, special events, etc.), we grew to be more than just a team, we became a close-knit group of friends who did everything together. 

Although Camp Fire's team and character building development programming did not make us better baseball players, it did make us a better team. As the season progressed, we communicated better on the field, were known as one of the most positive teams in the league (even won a few sportsmanship awards), and found ourselves on a strong winning streak by the end of the season. We became more than team mates; we became good friends. In fact, a few of my close friends today are two of my Ranger team mates. Without a doubt, those friendships and the strength of our baseball team are a direct result of our Camp Fire experience. 

John Wolfkill
Executive Director
KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory

Email, 7-21-14

Deric Williams, program director of Camp Fire Green Country, Tulsa, first told us this story and then asked John to share it. Thanks to Deric and to John!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fundraising - BaconFest 2013, Chicago

As we mention periodically, every small town in Oklahoma probably has or should have its own local festival to bring money into the local economy.

In Chicago, BaconFest is a huge hit with $50,000 of the proceeds going into the local food bank. Local restaurants display their best and most creative bacon recipes including bacon desserts.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

LGBTQ Youth Resources

Mentoring groups as well as schools and religious institutions have young people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning. The Center for Disease Control has some often dire statistics on these youths, who are bullied in multiple ways.

Regardless of differences, these are still highly at-risk children, teenagers or young adults who need nonjudgmental mentoring (and/or parental) relationships.

Below are two sites. The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) has resources for "Youth in Care," but those of us not mentoring youth in care can still learn from the information. The second source is from the Center for Disease Control.


Thanks to Kathy Taylor of Life Launch, a program of Stand in the Gap Ministries, for sharing the NRCYD organization and resources with us. The LGBTQ section is just one important topic on the website.

Life Launch mentors foster alumni in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas.

Ret. 8-7-14

Friday, August 8, 2014

Preventing Teen Pregnancy

Mentoring organizations can train with mentors to address prevention of teen pregnancy. As the Oklahoma teen birthrate suggests, just expecting or demanding abstinence does not work. Education is a critical key for male and female mentees.

Prevention key to combating teen pregnancy

From left highschool students, Micayla Thibodeaux (17) and Chase Gulliver (17), present a Teen EmPower class to 7the graders at Delcrest Middle school with Exec Director Kathy Harms. (Shannon Cornman)
From left highschool students, Micayla Thibodeaux (17) and Chase Gulliver (17), 
present a Teen EmPower class to 7the graders at Delcrest Middle school with Exec 
Director Kathy Harms. (Shannon Cornman)
The truth
One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or in this case millions of Oklahoma tax                   dollars each year. In 2010, the state of Oklahoma spent $169 million on teen childbearing.             However, very little money is allocated for expanding education to prevent teen pregnancy.

“Many nonprofits are about reacting,” said Kathy Harms, executive director and founder of            Teen EmPower. “They are spending time and resources working with pregnant teens, and                   I say let’s back up a bit. Let’s try to increase education so the teen doesn’t end up in the           situation.”

Ten years ago, Harms began Teen emPower with the focus of preventing adolescents from                     taking part in high-risk actions through youth education.

“We need to take a prevention approach,” Shanté Fenner, education and training director                     at Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, said. “We educate on the importance of wearing                 seat belts. We talk about the reasons why we shouldn’t smoke. Why would we want to                       prevent teaching accurate information on this topic?”

Overall, teen birth rates are going down. Six years ago, Oklahoma had 7,581 births to girls               ages 19 and younger; in 2013, the state had 5,379 births to girls ages 19 and younger — a 29       percent decrease.

However, to put that into perspective, more 18-19-year-olds in Oklahoma gave birth in recent       years than entered the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma StateUniversity as freshman.
“The teen birth rate in Oklahomahas ranked too high for way too long,” said Sharon Rodine,        youth initiatives director at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. “The benefits of        preventing youth pregnancy are enormous. Other challengessuch as child neglect, poverty,           even unemployment can be affected by this. The good news is that this is preventable.”

Currently, there is not a teen pregnancy rate because there is no way to accurately track       pregnancy rates. However, what is monitored is teen birth rates, and in 2012, Oklahoma             ranked 49th in the country — just ahead of New Mexico — for the highest teen birth rate of             girls ages 15-19 and 50th (the highest and worst) in the country for ages 18-19.
“In our country, we do poor job of discussing sexuality with young people. And as a             result, we have the highest rate of teen births of any of the industrialized nations in                    the world, and for many sexuality transmitted diseases,” Harms said.
Not really reality
Reality television, music and filmpromote or even glorify teen pregnancy; however, the                   truth is an extremely different picture. For Harms, the hardships of teen pregnancy began                   at 15 and increased after giving birth at 16.
“For many years, I would have to wonder, ‘Am I going to pay the gas bill or am I going                 to pay the electric?’ because I knew I wasn’t going to be paying both,” Harms said. “Or                   I would wonder, ‘Am I going to buy diapers or am I going to pay rent?’”
The majority of teen mothers are single, and the demand to do whatever it takes to make                 ends meet becomes overwhelming. Many times, this results in not being able to dedicate 100     percent of your time to your child due to the demands of work and overall survival. In many         cases, it is the child that suffers.

“Whenever you are going to take a child to daycare, what do you think is the first thing a               single parent is going to ask?” Harms asked. “While it should be, ‘Are you going to take care                of and protect my child?’ actually, it is ‘How much?’ And the lowest bidder … is the winner.”

It’s about education
Nelson Mandela believed education to be the most powerful weapon available to change the         world. Harms and Teen emPower’s mission follows a similar undertaking. Their approach               isn’t about pro-life or pro-choice; it’s about pro- prevention and educating teens.

“It is so widely promoted that talking to teens about the subject promotes it; however, this                   is just not true. [It’s difficult to get] people [to] understand we are not promoting [sex], we                 are about promoting healthy information,” Harms said. “You are nota bad person for               thinking about sex. You are not a bad person if you have had sex. You just need to know               what all is involved with it.”

Rodine believes in youth education and that there is a role for everyone in teen pregnancy       prevention. This is the thought behind Advocates for Youth’s Let’s Talk Month, which takes           place this October. Parents, caring adults, youth- serving organizations and communities can       focus on ways individuals can help young people make good decisions and avoiding risk-taking behaviors.

“Let’s Talk Month encourages parents and caring adults to be available and open to young            people in talking about healthy relationships and preventing teen pregnancy,” Rodine said.              “We don’t want this focused on school sexuality education or clinic programs. We want the           focus on parent-child communication, tips for parents, ideas for increasing community         awareness and opportunities to talk with and guide youth.”

Understanding the diverse backgrounds of families within the community has been a large               part of the success of Let’s Talk Month. The program allows agencies, religious institutions,   businesses, media, schools and parent groups to plan events that inspire parent/child     communication about sexuality.
“Society has this notion that information [about sex education] is being taught at                  school or at home,” Fenner said. “It’s being shown that its not. Simply put, parents                     are the best educators, and we must teach accurate information.” 

Ret. 8-6-14