About Windsor County Partners
Read our newsletter, Partner Pages:
About Our Youth Mentoring Program
In existence since 1974, Windsor County Partners (WCP) provides mentoring partnerships, free of charge, to any Windsor County child between 5 and 18 who could benefit from a long term, trusting relationship with a caring adult. WCP serves children in 24 towns and 9 different school districts.
Our PALS (Partners Always Lend Support) program is community-based and serves youth ages 8-18 years. Mentors and their mentees engage in a wide variety of activities throughout the area for approximately 2 hours a week, or 6-8 hours a month.
Let’s Do Lunch (LDL) serves the Springfield schools providing an opportunity for youth ages 5-18 to meet with their mentor for an hour a week on the school grounds to engage in child-directed activities such as reading, playing a game, working on a project or simply chatting.
Our overarching goal is to empower youth to make healthier life choices and realize their potential. Since the beginning, our mentors, or Senior Partners, have been encouraging their Junior Partners to explore possibilities, embrace learning, and make healthy choices while in a supportive, trusting relationship. Our Junior Partners become active participants in their mentoring relationships and are expected to make on-going efforts to communicate effectively, set goals, select and plan activities, and honor all agreements.
Mentor and mentee applicants are interviewed in their homes to gain a better sense of their family culture, skills and interests. Matches are made according to personalities, interests and geographic proximity (PALS).
All prospective mentors complete a thorough application process that includes the submission of 3 references and state, child abuse and FBI criminal record checks. Each new mentor receives comprehensive training prior to being matched and is required to attend one additional training throughout the year.
Since our inception, we have created and sustained over 1,000 adult-youth matches. We are currently working to grow our organization and increase the number of Partnerships and their distribution throughout the County. We hope to match every child on our waiting list as quickly as possible and welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds, ages, towns and careers.
Jennifer Grant oversees organizational operations as Executive Director. She works with the Board to ensure the financial stability of the organization and to plan public events. Jennifer makes mentor/mentee matches based on interests, geography, and personalities. She collaborates with area organizations such as schools, businesses, civic organizations, and non-profits in the recruitment of mentors and the support of matches. She leads monthly All-Partner events, which allow the mentor pairs to interact with each other and to have fun!
Jennifer has extensive experience in the non-profit & business sectors, gained from working in small business and from fulfilling staff & board leadership roles for local service agencies and Chambers of Commerce.
Shel Emerson- Small manages the central office in the Program Support role. She maintains organizational records, processes mentor & mentee applications, and provides technical support. Shel has an Associate’s degree as well as additional training in Business Management and Early Childhood Education. She has more than a decade of experience in office & database management, fundraising, and marketing.
In 1974, District Court Judge George F. Ellison, Charles Gibbs, Esq., area social workers, and other concerned residents from several Vermont communities established Windsor County Partners. These individuals first met to address the increasing number of children at risk of damaging their lives through harmful behaviors such as premature sex, underage drinking, use of other illegal substances and violence.
With other successful mentoring programs such as the research-based Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America as models, the group concluded that mentoring opportunities for the community’s youth would make the difference. The group formed Windsor County Partners, Inc., a non-profit, 501(c)(3) youth mentoring organization, in an effort to guide children down new life paths through close relationships with dependable adults, and to instill in them the belief that they have opportunities in mainstream society.
The name the insightful founders chose for this organization includes a word purposely selected to impart a particular meaning to its mission—“Partners”. This word stresses the commitment required by both the Senior Partner and the Junior Partner in making their new friendship blossom. The youth becomes an active participant in the mentoring relationship and is expected to take an ongoing interest in communicating, sharing, selecting and planning activities, and honoring all agreements. For the child, this process of helping to build a healthy relationship with a sensitive, caring adult is sometimes a first lesson on how to form lasting, positive relationships in his or her life.
Goals of the Mentoring Partnerships WCP Creates and Supports
- Help Partnerships to develop close friendships based on trust, respect and communication.
- Increase Junior Partners’ self-esteem.
- Increase Junior Partners’ awareness and accountability for their actions.
- Promote fun and healthy life choices through safe, creative activities.