Power of One Connects Adults, Youth
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
Jennifer Boyd hopes the ECU community will experience, firsthand, the Power of One. The after-school program, offered through Communities in Schools of Pitt County, links adult mentors with school-aged children.
“This program has proved that kids who are considered to be at risk at school and in their homes are in need of a person who can give them some positive attention and serve as a role model,” said Boyd, of Communities in Schools. “They need a person in their lives who is all about them.”
ECU’s Community Service Leave provides 24 hours a year that enables employees to become involved in the education of youth and to promote the need to support schools, communities, citizens and non-profit organizations. Boyd said she hopes more ECU faculty and staff would consider using the leave to team up with a child. Mentors are asked to meet with a child for at least an hour once a week.
“Some parents don’t have the education, patience or time to work with their children,” she said. “By taking an hour or so each week, it can put the kids at an advantage.”
At least two staffers and several students at ECU volunteer through Power of One and have made meaningful connections with their mentors. Volunteers undergo an orientation and training program that help to prepare them to work with children. More than half of the children in the program are referred to the program by county court counselors.
“Children who are mentored at least two hours a week for a year are shown to have better attendance at school, better self esteem and are less likely to drop out of school,” she said. “The great thing is that it is flexible to a mentor’s schedule.”
Other volunteer options include Leaders for Lunch, which teams up a child with an adult for 20 minutes. Boyd said there was an especial need for male volunteers. She said Power of One has helped dozens of children across Pitt County and has contributed to a better, more positive community. “If you want to do something, you can do it,” she said. “One person working with one child, it can have a ripple effect; it affects the child and it affects their parents too.”