West Liberty Youth Dream Catchers (WLYDC) is an academic mentoring program that provides support to students in grades 3-12 to help them become college and career ready by the end of high school.  Students are selected from among applicants who meet the criteria related to family income level and parent education (low-income family and neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree). Every participant receives support from a one-to-one mentor and becomes eligible for a four-year scholarship upon completion of the program.

Azaret Metrio Zintos

The four primary tasks of a mentor are:  1) Establish a positive, personal relationship with the student.  2) Help the student to develop life skills. 3) Assist the student in obtaining additional resources.  4) Increase the student’s ability to interact with people/groups from various socio-economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds.

Mentors meet weekly with their mentees.  Most meet at the West Liberty Public Library on Wednesdays at 5:00 or 6:00, or on Sundays at 3:00.  These common meeting times allow for monthly group sessions. Another advantage of common meeting times is that one mentor can cover for another by working with two mentees whenever a mentor must be absent from a weekly mentoring session.

When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. Today’s youth face a variety of challenges, and being matched with a mentor can help them navigate these challenges and reach their potential.  The relationships formed between mentors and mentees have a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Since 2004 when Dream Catchers began, the overwhelming feedback from most mentors has been that they get way more out of being a mentor than they put into it.  They talk about how a special bond was created with their mentee and how exciting is it to “see the light bulb come on.” Mayra reported that stopping to see her mentee on her way home from work in Iowa City is the best part of her week.  Nathan recounted the time a young man, whom he did not recognize, approached him, introduced himself as a former mentee, and told Nathan that he had made a huge difference in his life.

We are in need of mentors.  Would you be willing to serve as a mentor, and help change the lives of children who face adversity?  Do you have one hour per week you would be willing to invest in this cause? If you would like to volunteer, or learn more about this opportunity, please contact Steve Hanson at 319-930-9827 or stevehansoniowa@gmail.com