Partners helping make difference |

Partners helping make difference

Lee Harstad

Fourteen-year-old Stephanie was suffering from depression, low self-esteem, school problems and did not have any positive relationships with adults.

Her mother was mentally ill and Stephanie was the victim of abuse. Stephanie desperately needed something in her life. She found what she needed in the Partners Program.

A month after her referral to Partners, she was matched with Susan, a senior partner, and they spent time participating in Partners activities skiing, going to the theater and just hanging out. As their friendship grew stronger, Susan was able to help Stephanie understand and deal with her mother’s mental illness and to address her own depression and low self-esteem. With Susan’s support and encouragement, Stephanie was graduated from high school and was off to college on a scholarship.

Stephanie is now a college graduate and planning a career in medicine. Having such an impact on her life, Stephanie became a senior partner and was matched with a junior partner of her own.

Partners is a non-profit mentorship program that provides youth with an adult volunteer (senior partner). Senior partners are matched in a one-to-one relationship with a youth (junior partner) and Partners asks for a one-year commitment, but many Partners keep in touch for five or 10 years, or even a lifetime.

“Partners is great fun and it is a highly structured mentoring program,” said Moffat County Partners Director Debi Landoll. “If we want to build a better community we need to support the kids.”

There are two parts to the Partners program. While kids wait for a partner, they are involved in the Nexus Program which is designed to help the youth by providing structured activities once a month. This helps Partners learn more about the youth so officials can find a right match.

According to Landoll, there are 31 junior partners and 13 senior partners either participating or going through the application or training process. Junior partners are referred to the program by outside agencies, but are not forced to participate, so the youth involved in the program want to be there.

“All it takes to become a volunteer is a phone call to Partners,” Landoll said. Selected senior partners go through a screening process and Partners matches them with similar goals and qualities of junior partners.

Partners is able to provide youth with positive attitudes and, according to Landoll, the program gives youth a chance to look up to a role model, something they may have never had before.

“Some kids don’t have the support they need at home,” Landoll said. “Kids tend to listen to outside sources better than they do their parents.”

Partners asks senior partners to spend an average of three hours per week with a junior partner and after the initial commitment of one year, the partnership may be extended or the relationship can end. According to Landoll, at the end of the year most relationships continue as an alumni relationship and those wanting to end the relationship may choose another youth as a partner.

According to Landoll, Partners is constantly undergoing case management for smooth operation of the programs. This results in partners who are happy with one another. Volunteers who want to make a difference are always welcome at Partners.

“We are always looking for senior partners to help expand the program,” Landoll said.

This month also marks the one-year anniversary of Partners in Moffat County. To celebrate, Partners will hold a celebration from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at the facility located at 439 Breeze St., Suite 100. The public is welcome.