Children and mentors benefit in the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program

08/06/2018

By Sue Cody

Lunch Buddy 2018 FB

When you mentor a child, you enrich two lives and greatly increase the chances of that child’s long-term success.

Clatsop County schools host the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program (LBMP). There are about 20 children waiting to be paired with an adult mentor.

People interested in becoming mentors are invited to an information night Aug. 8 at Buoy Beer. The brewpub supports LBMP with Pints for a Purpose, donating $1 per pint of a specialty IPA ordered in its Astoria brewpub. Other community support comes from United Way and private donations.

“The Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program has enriched my life by giving me the chance to give back and be that consistent someone in a child’s life,” says Valerie M. “It’s been so special to build a bond and give my buddy that confidence to know that she can count on me to be there week after week, just for her!”

While LBMP is in the process of hiring a new volunteer coordinator, recruiting and training are ongoing, says LBMP board member Emily Townsend.

What is a Lunch Buddy?
Lunch Buddy adult mentors are paired with a child who needs individual attention and a positive adult role model. Lunch Buddies spend one hour a week during lunchtime with the child at his school. After lunch, they may read, play a board game, go outside or just talk.

LBMP asks for a one-year commitment to provide consistency to the child. Many mentors find the program so rewarding they follow the same child, or find a new buddy each year.

“I continue to be a mentor year after year because I want to make a difference, one kid at a time, and be the adult mentor that they might not have otherwise,” says Liz J., who has volunteered with the LBMP for eight years.

Children who have a Lunch Buddy are 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to start drinking and 52 percent less likely to skip school than their peers, reports a Public/Private Ventures study. Youth.gov reports at-risk children who receive a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college.

“The Lunch Buddy program is rewarding to see the young person grow and become more confident, self-sufficient and proud of accomplishments in school,” Judy G. says.

“One of the reasons I do Lunch Buddy is to see the kids’ face light up when I bring in lunch for them,” Rick A. says. “We know sometimes they are not in the best environments and when their peers see that ‘they’ are the special one, they beam with pride – even if it is for that moment.”

Teacher and LBMP board member Sarah Collins says mentors can help children navigate the playground if they have difficulty socializing.

“This program has mentors reaching a bit further too,” says Judy. “We need to try new things to show our confidence and joy in doing something different. My Lunch Buddy is a fabulous artist and he is getting me to draw – something that is not one of my strong points. We both grow within the program.”

LBMP also provides children with backpacks and school supplies. Teachers report it is especially helpful for a child entering school mid-year to give them a backpack with all the tools they need.

For more information or to donate, contact lunchbuddies.mp@gmail.com

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, support the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program.

Lunch Buddy Information Night
Buoy Beer Company
No. 1 Eighth Street, Astoria
Wednesday, Aug. 8
6 to 7 p.m.
Contact: lunchbuddies.mp@gmail.com