Doris Higgins: Did you have a mentor? Pay it forward to a child

Published 9:21 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

In cooperation with the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, the Niles Daily Star will publish opportunities for volunteers each week. To find out about these or other volunteer opportunities, please call 983-0912 in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area, 683-5464 in the Niles area; visit our website at; or e-mail us at volunteer@volunteers for further information. To arrange an appointment, please call ahead. Appointments do not constitute an obligation to accept a volunteer opportunity. The center is a United Way agency.

Spotlight of the Week

Did you know that children with mentors are: 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; 53 percent less likely to skip school; and 33 percent less likely to engage in violence? Young people with mentors feel more confident about their ability to do well in school and report more positive relationships with friends and parents. Isn’t it amazing that one hour of your time a week can make such a difference? During National Mentoring Month in January why not consider becoming a mentor?

Visit explore volunteer opportunities or call 983-0912 or 683-5464.

Do you remember who mentored you? Why not thank them by considering mentoring in 2011?


• Are you a big post-holiday shopper? Now is a good time to pick up items for next year’s holiday drives. Don’t forget that holiday decorations and wrapping paper are welcomed by parents receiving food and toys for their children. Also, The Salvation Army and other organizations continue to need more items for teens.

• As families struggle during these hard economic times domestic violence is on the rise. You can be part of the solution by volunteering as a crisis line operator for Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services. You will provide telephone crisis intervention, support and information to domestic violence survivors. You should have empathic listening skills, and be ready to respond to emergency situations over the phone. You also need the ability to deliver services in a non-judgmental manner. Extensive training is provided and a criminal background check is required.

• The Museum at Southwestern Michigan College collects and preserves artifacts related to the history of the College District and interprets this history through exhibits, school tours and programs. The first person visitors meet is the friendly volunteer at the front desk who can answer their general questions. The volunteer schedule is flexible.

• Are you a friendly person who would like a volunteer opportunity for February and March only? Why not consider being a greeter for the Earned Income Tax Coalition at a site near you? Working families come to various sites throughout southwest Michigan for free help with their taxes and you can be the first friendly face they see. No special training required. If you are interested in doing taxes, training will start Jan. 8 in both Benton Harbor and in Niles.

Contact the Volunteer Center or United Way for more information.


Who mentored you? Why not honor their memory by encouraging others to become mentors? You can request materials to post at your work place, library, house of worship or other location to become mentors. We have posters and a booklet of mentoring opportunities. Our children need mentors.

Are you creative? Would you like a big window as your canvas?  The Volunteer Center has been offered a window in downtown Niles to utilize for all of January to promote National Mentoring Month. What a great opportunity to recruit more mentors for our kids!

Have you ever thought about how adults can benefit from mentoring too? Whether you help an adult struggling with literacy or act as a friend to a woman affected by domestic violence, you can make a difference in that person’s life. The Cass County Jail has a special program to help inmates re-enter society, Navigators. Navigators’ volunteers help men and women while they are still in jail and then offer support for at least a month following their release. Training and a comprehensive planning workbook to use in sessions with inmates is provided.

If every person who donates blood once a year recruited one person to donate once a year, blood shortages could be a thing of the past. Recruit a friend to donate blood today.

Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross

For a complete listing, visit  www.berrienredcross .org.

Michigan Blood

For a complete listing, visit