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Profiles in Mentoring

COACH Kids: Jo Ellen Clark, right, poses for a photo with her mentee, Lizeth.

Fourteen years ago, Jo Ellen Clark knew that she wanted to give back to the community in some form of volunteering. She strongly believes “we are here to serve God by helping others.” Clark was thrilled to learn about the mentoring program in Clinton County, which at the time was known as Big Brothers Big Sisters, and has since evolved into the thriving COACH Kids of Clinton County program. Clark jumped into volunteering by meeting her mentee for school lunch once a week, and has been mentoring with COACH Kids ever since.

Clark’s passion and enthusiasm for COACH Kids is infectious.

“My friends will tell you I’m obsessed with COACH Kids,” Clark said. “I’m always searching for mentors and/or donations.

“There is such sadness in knowing we always have children on our waiting list who are just waiting for someone to care,” she added. And for that reason, Clark fervently encourages others to become involved in the program. She quotes Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

Clark loves to talk about the benefits of mentoring with COACH Kids.

“I like that we are in all of the Clinton County Schools, and all of our donations stay in Clinton County for our programs,” she said. “We are helping the children in our community become responsible, caring adults. They have better social skills, higher grades and happy smiles. How would these children have turned out without their special friend?”

Clark is currently mentoring Lizeth and shares that their friendship started seven years ago.

“When I met her, at age 10, she was so shy and withdrawn,” Clark recalled. “I’ve watched her become a caring, responsible adult, who wants to go to college and help others. She’s making good grades and holding down a job too.”

Clark is endlessly proud of Lizeth and says with confidence that their friendship has helped Lizeth gain confidence and strengthened her character.

“I have no doubt that she will make us all so proud as she takes on the world,” Clark said. “Lizeth tells me that I have made a big impact on her life, but the credit goes to God for leading me to become a mentor.”

Becoming a mentor with COACH Kids is a 30-minute commitment once a week during lunchtime in the Local Heroes program, or 4-6 hours per month commitment in the Community Hope Program. Anyone interested can attend an informational meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 13th, or can contact the COACH Kids office directly.

“I am so very thankful for COACH kids,” Clark said. “And I consider it a blessing to be a part of it.”