SALEM, Ohio – With more people than ever relying on its services because of the pandemic, United Way Services of Northern Columbiana County found new ways to help in the past year.
Donors also responded by enabling the United Way’s campaign to surpass its 2020-21 fundraising goal of $220,025. The goal of the 2021-22 drive is $224,275.
In October, United Way Services launched the Unlocking Potential mentoring program for fifth grade students at Southeast Elementary School in Salem.
The pandemic adversely affected the academic, social, emotional and physical well-being of children. Unlocking Potential helps students experience a counterbalance to the negative influences of daily life, according to George W.S. Hayes, United Way executive director.
Mentors in the program encourage resilience, responsibility and safety through a variety of life skills the children can carry into adulthood.
Principal Lisa DeRose and guidance counselor Karlyn Lundquist selected the initial group of students. Mentorship sessions take place monthly during the students’ lunch period, with lunch provided for mentees and mentors by United Way.
Programming emphasizes students’ awareness of personal safety, respect for self and others, and responsibility, Hayes says. Mentors encourage the students to attend school regularly, do their best academically, and obey all school rules. Sessions end with mentors and their students’ participating in a game or physical activity.
Mentors are selected from a variety of businesses in the Salem area. This year’s mentors will follow their mentees next year into sixth grade. A new group of mentors and fifth grade mentees will be named next school year.
United Way agencies provide approximately 100,000 service deliveries per year.
United Way Services of Northern Columbiana County serves the northern two-thirds of Columbiana County and includes East Palestine, Columbiana, Leetonia, Lisbon, Salem, Washingtonville and the surrounding areas.