While corporate CEO Bob Taylor spends time reviewing inventory reports, he also takes stock of the next generation.
The company Taylor leads, Do It Best Corp., provides employees with paid time off each week to mentor children. He knows a child who has a relationship with a mentor at least one hour each week tends to do better in school, avoid alcohol and drugs, stay away from crime and pursue healthy opportunities.
As a member of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Taylor also knows mentoring is essential for the Hoosier state’s future economic development. “When you make that business connection, it’s another way of exposing young people early on to the opportunities that are right here in their backyard in Indiana,” Taylor said.
Kim Nymeyer manages the mentoring program for Elkhart General Hospital’s medical group which provides employees with time on the clock to mentor. Nymeyer asserted that in addition to receiving positive youth development, students who are mentored gain new awareness of career possibilities.
“This is a way to expose them to all different types of opportunities and types of jobs that they never would have imagined even existed because their scope is limited in terms of what they’re exposed to,” Nymeyer declared.
Eddie Melton agrees. Melton oversees community engagement for NiSource, headquartered in Merrillville, which includes running a mentoring program for Gary high school students. NiSource allows employees to use company time to mentor. “We believe that having an educated emerging workforce is important to our industry and the communities that we serve,” Melton stated.
Due to mentoring’s positive impact on youth and economic development, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce endorses the business and youth development strategy of providing employees with paid time off each week to mentor. “Mentorships are an integral component of Indiana’s strategy to reduce the dropout rate and improve student preparedness and performance,” said the state chamber’s President and CEO, Kevin Brinegar.
A free resource offered by the Indiana Mentoring Partnership is available for employers who want to start a youth mentoring program. The booklet, “Developing Your Business as a Champion for Youth Mentoring,” (located online at abetterhour.org), describes how to partner with local mentoring agencies and establish guidelines to ensure accountability.
The manual is based on the mentoring program conducted by Old National Bank, headquartered in Evansville. Old National provides employees with 30 minutes each week to mentor. The bank’s executive vice president, Kathy Schoettlin, takes full advantage of the program.
“I learn just as much from (the child I mentor) as he learns from me. We talk about having a caring adult in the life of a child. Well, there’s nothing like that caring child giving it to you right back.”
Bill Stanczykiewicz, former Anderson radio sports announcer, is president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. He can be reached at email@example.com and @_billstan.