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UMaine Program Plans Dinners for Parents, Student Mentors

Contact: Erin Lennon, 581-1786

The school year may be half over, but the Black Bear Mentors Program is gearing up for another semester of community service, inspiration, motivation, fun, and yet more introductions.

The Black Bear Mentoring program enriches the lives of area children from a variety of households ranging from those whose circumstances may harm their self-images and lead to lower aspirations and reduced opportunities to those who want to stay on the right path. Black Bear Mentor volunteers meet with area children one-on-one for about two hours one afternoon a week and engage in numerous activities from homework to cooking. The relationship provides area youth with a dedicated adult for activities and someone to talk with about their struggles and successes. The program is part of the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and is in its seventh year.

The first semester started with mentors meeting mentees, but the second semester will take the matches a step further: meeting families. To create a stronger connection between the program and the community, the Black Bear Mentors’ five sites will begin hosting “Meet Your Mentor Dinners” during National Mentoring Month in January.

The “Meet Your Mentor Dinner” is only a year old, but it was so beneficial that four of the five mentoring sites will host dinners this year, as opposed to one site that held the dinner last year, according to Erin Lennon of Black Bear Mentors.

“The dinner gave the parents and people who work at the school a chance to put a face to the names and stories they’d been hearing from the kids,” recalls Lewis Libby Mentor Samantha Kane. “I think it gave the parents peace of mind, but it also gave the kids chance to show off their mentors. It was pretty cute.”

The first of the dinners will be at the Old Town Recreation Department Friday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m.

Recruiting for this academic year’s program may be over, but those interested can still be involved with mentoring events, including upcoming dinners. The program will recruit new student volunteers next fall. For more information about the dinners or the program, call the Black Bear Mentors office at 581-1786 or email Erin Lennon at

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