Guest commentary: Hunter Hansen: Opportunity for the future of our young people

It is very enriching to help guide the life of a child. There is nothing more rewarding than passing on what you have learned in life to a child and watching him or her put that knowledge into action. Mentoring a child does just that.

I have been involved with Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children Scholarship and Mentoring Program for the past 2½ years. Mentoring, like education, is all about learning and learning to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.

There is more to mentoring than helping with schoolwork, college applications and providing scholastic guidance. I have found that finding time for the little things can have a big effect. Taking time to have lunch with my mentee, a junior at Barron Collier High, while we spend a few minutes catching up can make a big impact on his day. He appreciates that someone who cares for him, in addition to parents, family and teachers, is there to listen.

It is gratifying to see that my mentee is beginning to understand that life exists outside the realm of what he has seen in his personal life and is inquisitive to learn more than what he has been exposed to so far. I have seen him embrace his education, and plan for his future college and career. I thoroughly enjoy the time we spend together and hope to stay connected with him after graduation to maintain that relationship. The more time I give, the more I realize that it will come back in spades.

We all have a choice of getting involved in many philanthropic organizations and needs. I got involved in education and Champions For Learning because I believe continual improvement is important to personal and professional growth. I think that whatever job or career you pursue, whether you’re a banker, carpenter, lawyer or hotelier, we are all in the people business first.

My time spent serving on the Champions For Learning board has been valuable. I think it is one of the most well-run organizations I have ever been exposed to. Learning is the future of life and that is Champion For Learning’s end goal. I’m impressed with leadership throughout the whole organization and how its members exhibit genuine concern and care. By supporting local education, children see that continual learning never ends.

Being a mentor is like Christmas. You get more giving than you do getting. If you are looking for a meaningful experience that will enrich the life of a student, as well as your own, consider becoming a mentor.

And if you have the means to make an investment in changing the life of a local student, please consider making a contribution.

Right now, there is an opportunity to purchase up to 65 two-year college scholarships through the Florida Prepaid Foundation’s Matching Fund. A total of $260,000 in matching funds is available until May 2014, but if left unmatched, those dollars will be distributed to other Florida counties.

For information about mentoring or the matching opportunity, please contact Susan McManus (smcmanus@championsforlearning.org or 239-643-4755).

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