Back in 2017, Companions for Children established their lunch pals program. The program was designed to provide youth with a one-on-one mentoring relationship to increase their opportunities in life.
“One volunteer, adult mentor, and we pair them with one child in a school,” Jalisa Tinnes, Assistant Director at Companions for Children, said. “They spend the full school year having lunch with them, they’re a listening ear for the child. Basically a friend, role model, someone to spend that lunch with.”
Currently, the program is in Washington and Sunnyside Elementary schools but for the 2021 school year, the program will be expanded to John Hoeven Elementary school.
The organization does background checks on all volunteers before they are matched with a child. But before you apply they ask that you are 18 years old and older, have a one-hour lunch every other week for the school year and want to make an impact.
“It’s a pretty easy thing to volunteer for it and very rewarding for both the mentor and obviously highly impactful for the children,” Tinnes said.
The organization is looking for 30 volunteers for the upcoming school year. One volunteer from last year was Reeann Magandy and it was her first year.
She said while she works with kids every day this program was special and she is looking forward to doing it again next year, but this time in person.
“My mentee told me numerous times how much she looked forward to her next letter or how fun and she would want to catch up on what I had been doing since our last letter which was great and awesome,” Magandy said. “It’s just very rewarding anything you can do to impact a child’s life in a positive movement is awesome it’s just the greatest thing.”
Applications are open until the program is filled. It’s first come first served but you should apply by mid-July so that the matching process can begin.
“We’re not just matching people just male and boy and female and girl we look at a lot of different factors, personality, availability things like that,” Magandy said.
For more information on the program and how you can apply visit the Companions for Children website.