The Teammates program is turning 25, and to celebrate, Dr. Tom Osborne visited Fairbury to speak about the program and to share the importance of having mentors.
On Wednesday, he stopped at a number of locations, visiting with business leaders and other community members, before speaking at Fairbury Jr./Sr. High School. Before his speech Wal-Mart in Fairbury donated $2,000 to the Teammates program in Fairbury.
Here is a portion of Osborne’s speech:
Hannah Miller, spokesperson for Teammates, explained that she has seen many young people benefit from having a Teammate in their life, emphasizing that almost anyone can join the program.
“Basically you’re just their friend,” said Miller. “You’re not a tutor or a counselor. You’re there to be their advocate and their cheerleader and just to build up their confidence. Every child deserves a mentor or no matter who they are, where they come from.
“We believe every child could benefit from the program,” Miller continued. “Our goal is to impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential through mentoring. Right now we’re serving 8,000 youth in 145 communities across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Wyoming, but our goal is to reach 12,000 by 2020. So we’re really in a great need for mentors.”
Miller explained that she joined Teammates after working as a journalist because she wanted to do something meaningful that would help shape the future. She stated that since that time, she has seen a change in the life of her mentee as well as her own life.
“It’s just amazing what this program can do for people,” said Miller. “I was terrified of even the thought of talking to children, let alone having them, and I feel like my mentee has made me into a better person. I now feel like I can talk to a young person without feeling like I’m going to say something wrong. My mentee gives me hope for our youth and our future. We would like people to think about the mentors they’ve had and how they’ve helped to get them to where they are today. So, the best thing they can do is to be there for a child. All you have to do is show up once a week during the academic year”
Barb Schmidt, who serves as a Teammate in Fairbury, spoke to people about her experience and why everyone could use a friend. Listen to her speech here:
Natalie Julin-McCleary, former organizer for Teammates in Fairbury, explained that there are many benefits to having an active program in the school.
“Having Teammates here in Fairbury helps solidify that security net, that strength that helps kids to get through a hard time or to help them celebrate a great time,” said Julin-McCleary. “I think that consistency makes a difference, and that to have the program last for 25 years speaks to the strength of the program and how it’s structured. With Teammates, you know that you’re part of something bigger. There are other people who are doing the same thing you are doing: spending a little time every week showing a kid that you care.”
People who are interested in becoming a Teammate are encouraged to visit teammates.org, or to reach out to Teammates Organizer Patty Swartz at Jefferson Intermediate School.