Mountain Mentors group helps teens turn their lives aroundWritten by Erik Gable | | email@example.com
Not long ago, Tre’Montana Weaver was falling into some bad habits.
“My grades were slipping and my attendance was real bad,” the 17-year-old Woodward High School junior said. “I take my education seriously, but at the same time I wasn’t hanging around the right people I should have.”
Then Tim Beard, the dean at Woodward, told him about a group called Mountain Mentors. Beard is president of the Mountain Mentors board of directors and thought the program would be a good fit for Weaver.
And then things stared to turn around.
Mountain Mentors is a 28-year-old program that provides mentoring for at-risk Toledo teens through a yearlong series of both group and one-on-one activities, ending with a weeklong hike in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Program director Steve Toth said there are 15 teens in the program this year, 10 boys and five girls.
A new addition to Mountain Mentors is a cycling program in which, instead of a hiking trip, a group will take part in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, a weeklong ride that loops around the state. Before the ride, Toth said, the group will take a five-week bicycle mechanics class. He said the idea was piloted last year, and in addition to the youth bonding with each other, “because of the mechanics program they went through, they were able to help other cyclists repair their bikes along the route when they had a breakdown.”
Toth said the idea is that in a situation like a weeklong backpacking trip or bike ride, people can form bonds with complete strangers that might take months or years to form in everyday life.
It’s also rewarding for the mentors.
“I was hooked from the get-go,” said Patti Travis, who first joined the group as a mentor and is now vice president of the board of directors.
Travis recalled being on a hike with one seventh-grade girl who had a history of being kicked out of school. At one point the girl said with surprise, talking about the woman leading the trip, “Marcy likes me!”
“In all her years, she’d never had a positive feedback from an adult,” Travis said.
The group’s annual fundraising breakfast will take place at 7:30 a.m. March 21 at Epworth United Methodist Church in Toledo. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the program is invited to attend; pledge cards will be passed out but there is no admission fee.
Toth said the group always needs volunteers.
“One of our biggest challenges is recruiting mentors,” he said. “Recruiting mentors and raising money. Those are our only limitations to serving more kids.”
Weaver said the Mountain Mentors program has made a big difference in his life.
“Me and my mom weren’t really getting along,” he said. “We would argue all the time about what time I came in the house, my grades at school, my attendance.” Now, he said, he has a new perspective, he’s started working at a part-time job, and he’s getting along better with his family.
“I’m real thankful that programs like this are in the community,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to the hiking trip.
“I’ve never been outside Toledo, so it’s going to be a real good experience for me,” he said.
Fundraising breakfast set
What: Mountain Mentors’ annual breakfast.
When: 7:30 a.m. March 21.
Where: Epworth United Methodist Church, 3077 Valleyview Drive (across Central Avenue from Wildwood Preserve Metropark).
For more information: (419) 481-3606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.