Mentor Spotlight

2014 Mentor Recognition Luncheon Video

Story Written by:  Tom Fink with the Claremore Daily Progress

Local radio personality Sunny Leigh was among those in Claremore Thursday, honoring area mentors — “PALS” — at the Volunteers for Youth Mentor Recognition luncheon. Although not a member of Volunteers for Youth herself, before she was a personality on KVOO Radio, Leigh was a teacher in Florida. During her brief address, she touched upon the importance of being a positive influence in the lives of young people.                          “After college, I went to Florida, where I worked with dolphins — growing up, that had always my dream — but to supplement my income, I also taught school,” Leigh said, “but the school where I taught was, at the time, had it’s problems — teen pregnancy there was the highest in the state, and at one time, the nation, and many of the students had no interest learning.”                                                                                                                        Despite the challenges, Leigh said she attempted to connect with each of her students — one in particular, a young man named Hector — to encourage them to better themselves. “Sometimes you don’t realize until you get into a situation, how hard some of these (kid’s) lives are — how much they need someone to be an example to them, to encourage them to excel, and to make the most of their lives — to show them that they are important, and that’s what you (Volunteers for Youth PALS) do,” she said.  “Never doubt for a second that what you’re doing doesn’t impact the lives of these kids — it does, and it impacts them for the rest of their lives, and in some cases, can even inspire them later in life to be a positive influence themselves.”                                                                                                                         In addition to hearing Leigh’s address, Volunteers for Youth board, staff, and volunteers recognized local man Augustus “Gus” Ramirez as “Mentor of the Year,” and acknowledged Larry “Ace” Parker for his 11th year of volunteerism as a PAL. “To echo what Sunny said and what you already know, mentoring makes a difference — a permanent, lasting difference — in the lives of these young people,” said Volunteers for Youth Executive Director Mendy Stone. “Statistics only support the ‘mentoring effect’ in telling us that at-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college, participate in extracurricular activities, hold a leadership position in a club, and volunteer in their communities.  “As we like to say, be someone who matters to someone who matters,” she said.

Photo by: Tom Fink

MRL 2014


Volunteers for Youth staff recognized area mentors Thursday at its annual Mentor Recognition Luncheon, at which local radio personality Sunny Leigh spoke about the importance of being a positive influence in the lives of young people. Among those present for the luncheon were Celina Davis, Volunteers for Youth recruitment and retention specialist (from left), Sunny Leigh, KVOO Radio, veteran PAL Larry “Ace” Parker, Volunteers for Youth Executive Director Mendy Stone and Augustus “Gus” Ramirez, Mentor of the Year.

Mentor of the Quarter

Lisa Rogers MofQ

Volunteers for Youth named Lisa Rogers as Mentor of the Quarter last month at their monthly Mentor Feedback Luncheon. Rogers, who is Marketing Coordinator for Visit Claremore, began mentoring with the PAL program this year. She is matched with a student a junior high student who has had a great deal of life challenges. Lisa really wanted to be able to do what was best for her mentee and asked to meet with staff at Volunteers for Youth to discuss how she could best help her mentee with some of her challenges, and then met with the teacher to inquire about assisting with her mentee’s school work.  “In a situation that many new mentors might have just given up on, Lisa went above and beyond to assure that she was doing all that she could to help. In the end, what we discovered was that the best way she could help her mentee, was just by being there for her and showing up every week,” Pal Program Coordinator, Cindy Vanaman said. “She really epitomizes what we try to tell all of our mentors, and that is that their time is really their best gift and the best thing they can give to the kids.”


Jenalee Mitchell,  Mentor of the Year 2013

PAL Program, Volunteers for Youth, Claremore  

Mentee: Jasmine, 11th grade Two-and-a-half-year match       mitchell-jenalee

“My mentor has helped me with so much stuff, I could write a book.

“I’ve had her since my freshman year. When I met her, I thought she was going to be all uptight and hard to talk to, yet she was just the opposite. Every time we met we laughed and joked and on days I needed help and advice, she was there.

“My mentor is like my best friend. LOL! Whenever something funny happens to me, she’s the first person I think to tell. Even when she’s going through problems of her own, I always know she’s going to be fine because she’s a strong woman. She’s bright and very smart. Her son is so lucky and loved. I hope he grows to know just how loved he is.

“My mentor deserves this award because it’s the least I could do to show her just how much she means to me, and even if she doesn’t win, in my eyes, she did.”

Jasmine,   Mentee

Note: Jenalee is a mortgage loan originator at RCB Bank in Claremore.