Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

July 24, 2013

Hoosiers turn license plates into mentors

Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – Hoosiers are helping children across the state grow up healthier and happier by simply driving.

Indiana drivers who have purchased the Mentor a Child specialty license plate are allowing mentoring organizations throughout the state to better serve children. Proceeds from the plate benefit the Indiana Mentoring Partnership (IMP), a program of the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI), which splits the $25 in revenue with local mentoring organizations.

Since January 2011, the 473 Mentor a Child license plates sold have raised $11,825, and eight mentoring organizations recently received the first round of grants from the proceeds. That money is working to change lives.

For example, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Decatur County in Greensburg has received $1,500 it will use to assist with mentor recruitment. The funding will be used specifically to create a new brochure for the program as well as buy ads to encourage community members to become mentors. Executive Director Beverly Karazsia said there is a pressing need to recruit more mentors because there are more children who need services than mentors to serve them.

“We currently have 30 children in our community-based program and over 100 in our school-based program in Decatur County who are waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister volunteer mentor,” she said. “Funds will be used for newspaper advertising, radio spots and recruitment brochures needed for our agency, where financial support is desperately lacking.”

Karazsia went on to say that without the money from the Mentor a Child grant, there would be no funding to let the community know mentors are needed. The program usually depends on ad donations from local radio stations and newspapers to spread the word mentors are needed.

“These grants are providing mentoring organizations across Indiana with a unique opportunity to advance mentor recruitment efforts so as to serve more Hoosier children,” said IYI Vice President of Statewide Outreach December Warren.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Decatur County currently serves 42 children in the community match programs and 411 in school-based programs.

Research shows that sustained one-on-one mentoring with a caring adult impacts children in several ways. Mentors can help mentees stay in school and graduate, pursue higher education, enhance self-esteem, avoid criminal activities, better relate to others and set career goals. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Indiana mentoring programs have a waiting list of children who need a mentor.

“The funding made available through the sale of the Mentor a Child license plate will help recruit more mentors for more at-risk youth,” said IYI President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz. “Mentoring positively impacts the lives of children and youth as well as their mentors and this funding will strengthen the organizations that support these life-changing efforts.”

Hoosier drivers can request a Mentor a Child specialty license plate at the BMV or online when renewing their annual registrations. Specialty plates have an annual fee of $40 in addition to regular registration fees, with $25 going to the Indiana Mentoring Partnership. IMP grants out half of the proceeds to mentoring organizations across Indiana.

Other organizations that have benefited from Mentor a Child grants include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ohio Valley in Evansville, Starfish Initiative in Indianapolis, Montgomery County Youth Services Bureau, Project Leadership in Grant County, the Lebanon Area Boys & Girls Club, the Youth Service Bureau of LaPorte County and the YWCA of Evansville.

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