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January 9, 2016

Mentors needed for 80 available positions

MentorJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Mentor Cecile Lippitt, right, of Ithaca, and Katie Vogel, 11, of Homer, take still images and videos Wednesday at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville. Vogel has been partnered with Lippitt for three years. The two share an interest in photography and even their middle name, Elaine. Lippitt, 65, began mentoring children when she was 22 and a student at SUNY Cortland.

By LEANN HLEBICA
Staff Reporter
lhlebica@cortlandstandardnews.net

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to require a work out or slurping down green smoothies out of your brand new Ninja blender. Some of them simply require trying something new in the new year.
How about becoming a mentor through a volunteer program?
January is National Mentoring Month and Cortland agencies are seeking 80 mentors to fill 80 empty spots on its waiting list.
Cortland YWCA, Cortland Prevention Resources, and Access to Independence are working with Cortland Area Communities That Care to find more mentors in the community with its #80for80 campaign.
Programs like Bridges for Kids, which matches a mentor up with a child between the ages of 5 and 11, is seeking both community or student mentors. Youth Assist is a similar program working with teenage children ages 12 to 18.
Kate Vogel, 11, of Homer has been matched up with her mentor, Cecile Lippitt, for four years now. The two share a love of photography and conversation, and even, uniquely, a middle name.
“We both have the middle name of Elaine, and I’ve always thought that has displayed something about our friendship,” Lippitt said Thursday. The two have often used the slogan, two peas in a pod, to describe how they feel about one another.
Lippitt, 65, said she first began mentoring children at age 22 when she was a student at SUNY Cortland, and over the years she has mentored a total of five children, Kate being her most recent. She shared that she has no grandchildren in the area, and having Kate as a mentor fills that void.
Emily Diliberto, 22 is another mentor from the program, who travels 43 miles to visit a local child, Lillie Barber, who is 8.
Diliberto graduated from SUNY Cortland in May and lives in Norwich now. She says that spending time with Lillie is a breath of fresh air and encourages anyone who is even a little bit interested to go for it.
“As a student, I realized that some of the problems I had, stress from a test or popquiz, were nothing at all once I began mentoring and seeing alternative housing and family situations,” Diliberto said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Nutrition and working with families to create healthy eating habits is a part of Bridges for Kids. There are workshops and cooking classes that teach mentors, the children and their families how to cook with healthy ingredients.
Sara Earl, the director of the Bridges for Kids program at the YWCA, said the program began in 1980. Right now there are100 mentors matched with a child in the community, with 80 kids left on a waiting list.
Being a mentor involves the requirement of spending at least a few hours a week with each child.
Earl works with different community resources and agencies in the area and receive coupons for discount rates for kids and mentors who are in the program.
“Greek Peak has given water passes in the past, and some of these kids, they’ve never been to anything like it — so it’s very rewarding to them,” Earl said Wednesday.
Bridges for Kids is a nonprofit organization that receives a majority of its funding through grants.

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